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£1bn youth jobs fund: The hospitality industry’s reaction

By Luke Nicholls , 28-Nov-2011

Following the recent revelations that the Government is to inject £1bn of new funding into a new scheme to tackle youth unemployment, leading hospitality industry bodies have given BigHospitality their thoughts on how it could affect the sector.

The scheme, announced on Friday by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, aims to get 160,000 18 to 24-year-olds into work over the next three years, with the potential to provide job subsidies, apprenticeships and work placement opportunities in hotels, restaurants and pubs across the UK.

Hugely beneficial

“We welcome the Government’s initiative if it encourages more employers to take on more young people,” a spokesperson from the British Hospitality (BHA) told BigHospitality. “The industry offers a great career and many employers are already training and developing young talent.

“If the scheme increases the talent stream, it will hugely benefit the industry and the country.”

Hospitality skills council People 1st echo these views, having launched Employment 1st - a course that prepares people looking for their first job.

“Businesses have much to gain from this scheme particularly if they can access a new pool of talented work-ready people who have successfully completed pre-employment training in hospitality and travel,” said Brian Wisdom, chief executive at People 1st.

“By completing the Employment 1st programme, individuals generally come out more confident in their abilities, develop good customer service skills and grasp health and safety and basic food hygiene practices.”

Barriers to growth

With a bumper 2012, packed full of once-in-a-lifetime events including the London Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, there is certainly potential for some of the 270,000 new posts within the hospitality, transport, travel and tourism sectors to be filled. But, as the BHA warns, there are still barriers in place which could hamper the hospitality industry.

“Of course, employers have to have jobs to offer for the scheme to ultimately succeed,” added the BHA. “We have pointed out various barriers to growth for the hospitality industry – not least the high rate of VAT on hotel accommodation, attractions and restaurant meals - compared with almost every other EU member state.

“For more jobs to be created, we need those barriers to be removed.”

The scheme comes into effect from April 2012 and means that private sector employers and trainers across England, Scotland and Wales will be entitled to wage subsidies worth £2,275 per person taken on. In addition, there will be at least 20,000 additional incentive payments for firms in England to hire 16- to 24-year-old as apprentices.

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