Hospitality in the North-east has thrown its weight behind a campaign to connect young people with the workplace.

In conjunction with the Developing the Young Workforce North East (DYWNE) team, the Aberdeen City & Shire Hotel Association (ACSHA) has signed the first regional partnership with the Young Person’s Guarantee.

The Young Person’s Guarantee aims to give all young people in Scotland, aged 16-24, the opportunity of a job, apprenticeship, further or higher education, training programme or volunteering.

ACSHA, an association representing over 50 hotels, conference venues and tourism companies in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, has committed to communicating the benefits of the guarantee and influencing its members to support young people.

Skills shortage

Frank Whitaker, chair of ACSHA, said: “There is a huge short-term labour challenge across many sectors at the moment.

“We are working on how our sector stands out in the recruitment market while continuing to work on the longer-term skills shortage we face. Working with DYW North East has been a key part of our approach to improving that skills shortage in the future.

“Thirteen of our members already have a partnership with a school and that is really important to us.

“It seemed logical to take the next step and formalise that process with our commitment to the Young Person’s Guarantee because we’re already working to the level of support and partnership that’s needed.”

Best practice

The partnership means that the association will take a leading role in advocating and championing the guarantee to its members and wider network. This includes sharing best practice on the benefit it has to member businesses in adopting.

As well as examples such as attending careers events and giving curriculum support, ACSHA members have previously given “behind the scenes” tours, hosted student art exhibitions and offered advice and support to school, universities and colleges.

There are currently eight ACSHA hotels taking part in the Hospitality Apprenticeship North East (HANE) programme. This paid apprenticeship programme has been developed by hoteliers in the North-east of Scotland to attract talent into the local hospitality industry.

As well as building on the HANE programme, the association will continue to provide a range of other apprenticeships, trainee positions, school leaver positions and part time jobs.

A highly successful “Taste of Hospitality” event was held in November 2019, which has led to plans for a Hospitality Careers Challenge to be rolled out in regional schools in 2022.

The challenge aims to bring the world of work into the classroom and show the young people what the hospitality sector can offer.

Perceptions

Prior to the pandemic, the sector was the third largest private sector employer and the largest sub-sector of the tourism industry. It employed 3.2m people, producing £130b of economic activity and generating £39b in tax for the UK Government.

Frank said: “We want to challenge perceptions and promote our industry as an inspiring place to work.

“There are obvious things that come to mind when people talk about working in hotels. Working in our industry as a creative chef, or if you’re great at talking to people means you can deliver a fantastic guest experience.

“But the breadth of skills and experience you gain in our industry sector is just phenomenal.

“If you want to be an engineer, or you want to work in sales, or run your own company, it is an amazing place to develop the life skills you need.

I’ve worked in the industry for over 40 years and I may be biased but the experiences you get and the fun you can have – and fun is important - are unparalleled.”

Disproportionate

Director of DYWNE Mary Holland said: “The pandemic has had a disproportionate economic effect on Scotland’s young people, reducing job opportunities just as they are starting out on their career.

“To make sure their prospects are not permanently damaged, we are asking employers to come forward and join what is a crucial intervention and commit to the Young Person’s Guarantee.

“We also recognise there are organisations that have a different role to play in supporting the Young Person’s Guarantee, which is where ACSHA’s support is so important.

“Young people bring a wealth of talent, creativity, and enthusiasm, critical now and for future success.

“DYW and the YPG are here to help employers develop a future pipeline of skills and experience with young people at the heart of the workforce.”