The Government's new diplomas for 14- to 19-year olds, heralded as the potential solution to the industry's staffing crisis, have received overwhelming support from schools and colleges.
Around three-quarters of UK secondary schools and 88% of colleges have signed up to teach the new qualification from September 2009.
It means students will for the first time be able to gain a diploma in hospitality, equivalent to between five and up to seven GCSEs and three-and-a-half A levels.
Colleges will work closely with school partners to deliver the hospitality diploma and a number of employers are already on board to provide practical input. The courses will feature expert speakers, visits to hotels, restaurants and hospitality organisations in order to teach the practical side of the hospitality industry.
In total 317 schools, colleges and training providers have been given the green light to introduce new diplomas covering 10 vocational subjects.
Michael Gray, general manager of the Hyatt Regency London - the Churchill and a member of the People 1st steering committee on diplomas, said he was absolutely "thrilled and delighted" to have such a positive start to the diploma in hospitality.
"This represents such a major step forward in introducing our young people into the exciting world of hospitality during their school curriculum, but it is only the start of the journey," he said. "What lies ahead are the developing partnerships between employers and schools and colleges in the delivery of the diploma."
Geoff Booth, director of the School of Hospitality at Westminster Kingsway College, also spoke of the hotels that had chosen to become involved in the scheme, including the Hyatt Churchill, the Savoy, the Dorchester, the Royal Garden and the Sheraton on Park Lane as well as Compass, Aramark, Sodexho and Gordon Ramsay.
"The diploma will open the door to the vibrant world of a thriving, modern hospitality sector with its fantastic range of employment possibilities. We can't wait," he said.
By Gemma Sharkey
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