The project, run by the Perceptions Group, gives young people the chance to complete a pre-employment training programme giving them a qualification. They will then be ready for employment in the industry and will be a potential candidate for one of a number of work experience placements which are being promised by pub and bar employers.
Speaking to an audience of pub industry executives, Lewis praised the 'phenomenal' work the sector was doing, including to promote careers:
The Perceptions Group programme is based on a successful project pioneered by the Yummy Pub Company and today's official launch took place at The Somers Town Coffee House which boasts a number of full-time staff who started with the firm after completing a placement.
Anthony Pender, director of Yummy Pubs, said: “This scheme really does give young people an opportunity. Four of my employees have come via this route and we have signed up to take another 30 over the next year as our pub business grows. With around a million young people unemployed we, as an industry, are well placed to be part of the solution in offering not only jobs, but also long term careers."
The scheme is designed to ensure the best training is given to young people before they take up promised work experience placements. Pre-employment academies and workshops are being set up in conjunction with the Hospitality Guild and sector skills council People 1st. The workshops will allow potential candidates the opportunity to hone their employability skills before they apply for a two-week work placement.
To date over 1,500 placements have been pledged by the industry and over 3,000 apprenticeships have been made available by pub companies across the country.
“Pubs and bars are generally seen as a short-gap; part-time, pocket-money job," said Keith Knowles, chairman of Perceptions Group. "The reality is that they offer a diverse and interesting range of career opportunities.
The chief executive of Beds and Bars also called on other pub and bar employers to get behind the scheme and offer more placements as part of it.
"It is often by accident that young people stumble on a career in this industry and you only have to look around at the great retailers, big and small, within our sector such as Spirit Group, Stonegate Pub Company, Drake and Morgan, Yummy Pubs and my own business Beds and Bars to see the wealth of talent that has evolved through the training and development of our young people.”
According to the Perceptions Group, 60 per cent of the pub industry workforce are aged under 30 compared to just 24 per cent across the economy as a whole.
Today's national launch follows the industry briefing that took place in February when companies were asked to pledge placements. You can listen to an exclusive audio report from that briefing, which includes an interview with someone who completed a placement and is now looking to build a career in pubs, by clicking here.