Bristol hospitality operators have come together to pledge more than 1,000 job opportunities apprenticeships and work placements for young job seekers at the Big Hospitality Conversation.
Restaurants, hotels and caterers from across the region gathered this week at the Mercure hotel on Redcliffe Parade to take part in the 22nd event of this kind, kicking off an ambitious 2015 programme to generate job opportunities across the UK.
Forthcoming event locations are expected in Tottenham, Nottingham, Sheffield, Newcastle, Swansea, Belfast, Lambeth, Cardiff, Hackney, Legoland, Llandudno, Dundee / Perth, Preston / Blackpool, Leeds, Birmingham, Exeter, Maidstone, and the Isle of Wight.
Led by the British Hospitality Association (BHA), the Big Hospitality Conversation is a nationwide partnership working to create more opportunities for young people, and has seen over 36,000 new jobs and placements pledged to date. The aim is for the hospitality industry to create up to 60,000 jobs for young people by 2016.
The campaign is run in partnership with Believe in Young People, charity Springboard, Barclays bank, Business in the Community, People 1st and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Heiko Figge, who oversees the MREF Hotels portfolio, opened the event on 13 January. He said: "Bristol and the South West have one of the largest hotel and restaurant sectors in the UK in terms of both employees and contribution to the local economy. The city's visitor economy continues to grow steadily, with a visitor spend in excess of £1b annually, while the city is the fourth most visited in England.
"For young people in Bristol starting out in their career, hospitality is an obvious choice. With one of the largest hotel and restaurant sectors in the UK there is a lot of opportunity in the city."
Josh Eggleton, Michelin-starred head chef at the Pony & Trap, also spoke at the event: "I have transformed an early love of food and cooking into a career as a chef, and my advice to any young person starting out is to make a career out of something you love.
"My work is born from my passion and experience and in this industry experience is everything, so say yes to every opportunity which comes your way and embrace work placements and apprenticeships, as they are fun and useful."