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It is only by embracing young people that our industry can futureproof itself, says Ufi Ibrahim CEO of the British Hospitality Association….

Recent Office for National Statistics (ONS) news indicates that unemployment continues to fall, currently standing at 5.8%, compared with an average of 7.25% between 1971 and 2014. Meanwhile, youth unemployment for 16-24 year olds also continued to fall significantly. While improving employment figures can only be good for economic recovery, last year’s Institute for Public Policy Report (IPPR) says that a full blown economic recovery will not resolve the UK’s youth unemployment issue in the long term because there is a mismatch between what young people are training for and the types of jobs available. The UK can learn, says the IPPR, from our counterparts in Germany and the Netherlands where strong workplace-based vocational education training enables a smoother transition from education into work. In my view, this is critical, but we can go further by considering opportunities to use new technologies and digital learning platforms to make training more exciting and interactive.

Hospitality and tourism is renowned for its on-the-job-training and apprenticeships, and our sector is ideally placed for young people seeking a vocation-based and fast-paced career. Over the past two years the industry’s Big Hospitality Conversation (BHC) initiative has created over 36,000 job opportunities for young people. And our industry has pledged to go further and create 60,000 job opportunities.

However, young people have choices, and attracting the best talent is highly competitive. As an industry, we need to showcase the quality of training and development offered and the range of career paths ahead. We must actively encourage young people to seriously consider hospitality and tourism for their career and not just a starter job.

Hospitality Works is an initiative from BHC partner JobCentrePlus, supported by the British Hospitality Association, which is taking place throughout February 2015. Its aim is to encourage JobCentrePlus employees to recognise the importance of the hospitality and tourism sector, promoting opportunities and vacancies and linking young people to locally available training. For our part, the BHA has launched My Hospitality Story, a video blogging campaign which aims to find the new vlogging stars of the hospitality world. Young hospitality and tourism employees are encouraged to make short video blogs about why they love what they do in our industry, upload it onto YouTube and post the link to the Big Hospitality Conversation Facebook page. Our aim is to recruit young hospitality and tourism ambassadors from across the UK so they can start a conversation with their contemporaries and spread the word through their favourite communication platforms.

Working with young people and embracing their approach to digital learning and technology and their wide and varied communication channels is how we plan to future proof our industry.  Harnessing the passion and commitment of young people through grassroots campaigns like My Hospitality Story is part of our mission to encourage young people that ours in an exciting, varied and credible path; that a career in hospitality and tourism is the future.

Encourage young people in your organisation to join My Hospitality Story by posting videos and adding #MyHospitalityStory.

Additionally, as part of Hospitality Works, the BHA and JobCentrePlus will co-host a careers Q&A session via Twitter @UKJobsChat and taking questions using #HW2015. We are inviting all employers and career experts to join us, ask questions, share resources, offer advice and a little inspiration for those seeking a career in this incredible industry.

Click here to read more about the British Hospitality Association.