THE hospitality industry could cut the nation’s youth unemployment by a quarter if every business in it agreed to take on just one young person.

That was one of the messages at an event in Bournemouth which saw firms pledge to create 41 apprenticeships, 49 jobs for young people and 69 work experience placements.

The Big Hospitality Conversation, hosted at the town’s Premier Inn in Westover Road, brought together around 100 industry representatives with young people to discuss unemployment and the importance of work experience and apprenticeships.

Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, told the meeting that the hospitality industry was growing rapidly, with 153,000 jobs generated in the midst of the recession from 2010-12.

The industry was responsible for 27.7 per cent of all jobs generated in the UK over that period.

The industry is the fourth biggest in the UK, ahead of transport and financial services.

It accounts for 18.4 per cent of jobs in South Dorset and 13.6 per cent in Bournemouth West.

Ufi Ibrahim told the event: “There are very few industries in the world that are going to continue to grow at the same pace as our industry.”

There were seven billion people on the planet and people wanted to travel as they became richer, she said.

“In 1980, there were just 280 million international trips around the world. In 2012, there were 1.2 billion international trips taken around the world,” she said.

“The United Nations has estimated that every single year, there will be a minimum of 43 million additional trips taken worldwide.”

But she added: “Competition in our industry has never been as intense as it is today.”

The industry needed to have the best training, work placements, apprenticeships and recruitment.

“Every busi-ness can make a difference and there are 240,000 businesses in our industry in the UK,” she added.

“If every single business in the UK in our industry were to say: ‘I’m going to make a pledge to create just one apprenticeship, one work placement or one job offer to somebody within the ages of 16-24’, we’d wipe out one quarter of the youth unemployment in this country just like that.”

Samantha Richardson, a director of Bournemouth’s National Coastal Tourism Academy, which helped promote the event, said it was important to introduce young people to hospitality as a rewarding career option. She said: “There are so many stories and case studies of people who started as waiters and waitresses and ended up as general managers on good salaries.”

Industry has power to change lives

GUESTS at the Big Conversation welcomed the efforts to forge more links between young people and the industry.

Council leader Cllr John Beesley, pictured right, who works in the hospitality industry, said: “It’s a great opportunity to demonstrate that the industry both locally and nationally, really wants to bring in far more young people, particularly around apprenticeships.”

Paul Clarke, chairman of the Bournemouth Accommodation and Hotel Association, said: “It’s the first time we’ve had such an event in the town so it’s momentous.”

Ed Pyke, cluster general manager for Premier Inn in Dorset, said: “We are proud to be an employer with a strong social responsibility agenda and are committed to sharing our knowledge and success with other hoteliers and hospitality businesses on the power of combating youth unemployment, offering apprenticeships and providing work experience.

“Together as a community we have the power to change lives and provide real impact to our young unemployed people.”

Premier Inns has also pledged 90 apprenticeships for the region.

Young people Michael Guthrie, Kirsty Coward and Sam Babbidge – who were all receiving training from the South West Regional Assessment Centre - welcomed the event. Sam said: “I’m hoping to learn everything I can and see what opportunities are out there.”