More than 430 hospitality job opportunities, placements and apprenticeships have been pledged in Kent after the 37th Big Hospitality Conversation event at the Ashford International Q hotel.
Organised by hospitality employment charity Springboard as part of the nationwide campaign with the British Hospitality Association (BHA), the opportunities were pledged for jobseekers aged 16 to 24.
Launched in 2012, the Big Hospitality Conversation initiative is aiming to tackle youth unemployment and provide meaningful career paths to young people. It is part of the BHA's desire to push for 100,000 new jobs within hospitality and tourism by 2020.
Q Hotels made the single largest pledge of the day with the offer of 300 work experience opportunities, while chef Mark Sargeant, owner of Rocksalt in Folkestone, spoke about the benefits of working in the industry.
More than 100 young jobseekers attended the main conference, with a further 250 attending the careers marketplace fair. Employers present included Hilton Worldwide, Marriott, Costa Coffee, Compass Group, Whitbread Restaurants, Yo! Sushi, Premier Inn and HIT Training.
The event was supported by Jonathan Neame, chairman of tourist board Visit Kent and chief executive of Shepherd Neame; tourism minister Tracy Crouch MP; and Helen Grant MP for Maidstone & the Weald, who was minister for tourism from 2013-2015.
Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the BHA, commented: "The Big Hospitality Conversation not only offers young people living in Kent a chance to meet great employers in the region but to leave the day with a career in this vibrant industry."
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