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Investing in tourism & hospitality talent

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Ufi Ibrahim

Chairman of the Tourism Alliance and Chief Executive of the British Hospitality Association

The latest Labour Market Statistics published yesterday has seen the largest youth unemployment annual fall since records began alongside the steepest annual fall in unemployment in 25 years. We hear from Chairman of the Tourism Alliance and Chief Executive of the British Hospitality Association Ufi Ibrahim on how the sector is promoting careers in tourism and hospitality.

Our industry’s primary and most important resource is people, and so investment in attracting and developing talent is the key to our on-going competitive success, says Ufi Ibrahim, CEO of the British Hospitality Association.

The British Hospitality Association (BHA), a community of 40,000 business leaders, is focused on working with the UK government to propel the UK hospitality and tourism industry above its international competitors. To be the best in an intensely competitive global arena, the UK industry must have the best product, unbeatable service, and dynamic innovation, all of which stems from the best people working together to make the best difference, all the time.

All 3 million people working in our industry is engaged in serving visitors – be they domestic or international tourists, international investors or political dignitaries and diplomats visiting the UK. As such, every man and woman serving the UK hospitality & tourism industry is an ambassador of our country.

With the summer holidays in full swing, the focus on hospitality is more topical than ever. This week’s newspaper headlines are telling us that there is a shortage of hospitality staff in London. In fact, staff shortages are affecting hospitality businesses across the entire country.

Based on the projected growth of domestic and international customers, BHA estimates show that with the right policy framework in place, our industry stands to generate 300,000 new jobs by 2020. As an industry already employing some 3 million people in the UK, the continued growth of jobs is of great significance to the UK economy and to communities in rural, coastal, as well as urban areas. And for our industry, investment in attracting and developing talent is the key to our on-going competitive success.

The Tourism Council, announced by Tourism Minister Helen Grant at the BHA’s 2014 Hospitality & Tourism Summit, brings Ministers from across Whitehall together with representatives of our industry. The Council aims to shape public policy and support business in developing a skilled talent pool, increasing the quality and quantity of jobs available and boosting enterprise in the industry.

It is this kind of joined up thinking and action that will facilitate the right policy framework to unlock the full potential of the hospitality and tourism industry.

Big Hospitality Conversation


I firmly believe that all UK plc – not just hospitality & tourism businesses – need to better understand today’s young jobseekers and what inspires them. There is so much we can learn by listening to Gen Y and the millennials – after all they are the future leaders of our industry, and many are already our customers.

The BHA’s Big Hospitality Conversation – aimed at generating 60,000 new opportunities for young people across the UK by 2016 – facilitates dialogue between Chief Executives, and other industry professionals and young jobseekers. If each hospitality and tourism business pledged just one work placement, apprenticeship or job opportunity for a young jobseeker, we would be the UK’s most formidable force for young employment and the development of our stars of the future. We are committed to making this happen and to support every business who steps forward to make a pledge.

Thus far, we have engaged over 1,500 businesses and created over 34,000 new career opportunities. And by engaging thousands of young jobseekers and really listening to their feedback, we have learned a great deal.
As an industry, and together with our partners – Whitbread plc, Moorfield Group, Accor, Yo!Sushi, Sodexo, Nandos, McDonalds, Baxter Storey, Ellerman Hotels, Business in the Community, Springboard, Job Centre Plus/DWP, and the National Apprenticeship Service – we are committed to transforming the way in which we inspire the next generation of Hospitality & Tourism leaders.

We are proud to be working with the Minister of Tourism, Minster of Skills, and the Minister of Employment. However, to succeed, we need all of Whitehall to be informed of our aims and to ensure that their decisions support rather than hinder our efforts. And we are proud to be working with Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, and Kit Malthouse, Deputy Mayor of London, with the GLA Food team, to deliver a very special Big Hospitality Conversation on 24 September 2014, at City Hall.

I hope that my blog has inspired you to join us in making a real difference to the lives of young jobseekers, to help develop the UK’s future stars. If so, I hope to hear from you.

Find out more at about the Big Hospitality Conversation

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