Supporting initiatives which encourage youngsters into the industry is more important than ever, writes Barclays’ Paul Smith
NEWS that the number of people working in Scotland increased by 9000 between April and June, to stand at 2,594,000, was broadly welcomed, not least by those in the hospitality and leisure industry.
Young people remain the lifeblood of the sector and their talent, drive and willingness to move the industry forward should not be overlooked.
These growth figures directly correlated to a rise in opportunities within the hospitality and leisure industry, illustrating the importance of both for the Scottish economy.
It is crucial that incentives and employability campaigns continue in order to help young people get ready for work, and find quality apprenticeship and job opportunities.
Operators want talented youngsters with a real willingness to learn.
Over 2.7 million people are employed in the sector across the United Kingdom. This is 10% of the entire UK workforce, which, in turn, delivers £53m a year to the economy.
It is clear to see its economic importance.
So just what is being done to ensure the sector continues to thrive following what was a period of uncertainty during the economic downturn?
Young people are one of the best resources the hospitality and leisure industry possesses.
In September last year, we partnered with the British Hospitality Association (BHA) to support the industry body’s goal of creating 60,000 new jobs in the sector by 2015.
The approach was two-pronged.
Jointly, we helped inspire the next generation through a nationwide tour of events to showcase the variety of career paths available to young people in the hospitality industry, while helping local employers to find young people who were keen to start a career with them.
The BHA also joined and backed LifeSkills, a programme created by Barclays to help equip one million young people with the skills they need to make the transition from education to employment.
And it’s working.
Those operating in the sector want talented youngsters with a real willingness to learn, and the programme is going a long way in ensuring that these expectations are met.
Everyone working in the industry carries the same responsibility, as we ensure that the next generation is invested in.
The industry and the UK economy will reap the benefits if we can maintain this.
In June this year, cabinet secretary for training, youth and women’s employment Angela Constance announced that a total of £4.5 million will be invested to get regional employer partnerships off the ground, develop Scotland’s careers advisory service to provide earlier support and begin piloting foundation apprenticeships, allowing young people to start training while still at school.
This announcement was welcomed by those in the industry and it shows that the importance of youth employment is being taken seriously. Let us hope that this continues.
The momentum in the sector is growing.
The investment which is currently taking place is maintaining the opportunities which are key for the future of growth in the Scottish sector.
This not only makes economic sense, but will ensure that the future of thousands of young Scots in the hospitality and leisure sectors are secured.
• Paul Smith is corporate development director at Barclays Corporate Banking, Scotland.