A university in Northern Ireland has opened a flagship hospitality school and cultural hub which it hopes will help tackle skills shortages in the industry.
Ulster University Business School has launched Academy: the Centre for Food, Drink and Culture in a bid to attract the next generation of restaurant and hotel talent.
While some institutions have scaled back on hospitality education, the Academy includes a culinary and beverage school, conference facilities and a commercial restaurant where students can work and train in a hands-on environment.
An on-site ‘Culinary Salon' will host chefs from across the UK and Ireland and the centre will also host high-profile cultural events. This will include a three-day Gastronomy Summit in April 2022, which will focus on how hospitality venues can be used to benefit local communities.
The University hopes the facilities will attract more school leavers to study hospitality, and has begun engaging with schools and teachers through a project funded by the Antonio Carluccio Foundation.
Professor Una McMahon-Beattie, head of the department of hospitality and tourism management at Ulster University, said: "At Ulster University we have a long track record of excellence in hospitality education, with many graduates going on to work in some of the world's most prestigious restaurants and hotels and setting up their own successful businesses.
"As we launch Academy as our new educational hub we will have a renewed focus on equipping students with skills that help them progress in their careers and make a significant and positive contribution to society.
"Hospitality is central to our economy, culture and identity – and it is our talented graduates who will shape the sector's character and success."
For more information visit www.academyrestaurant.co.uk.
A number of catering colleges have had to cut programmes in recent years. In 2019 Runshaw College's Foxholes training restaurant was forced to close due to government cuts while Accrington and Rossendale College in Lancashire discontinued its hospitality and catering course that same year due to a lack of interest in its in-house offering.