It’s still about, ‘Hope, Skills, and Opportunities’

At Harri we are firm believers that young people are the engine which will drive the hospitality industry forward after the pandemic. We were thrilled to hear what the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, had to say about young people when he met with Jack Parsons, UK Youth Champion and CEO of the Youth Group on 10 March 2021. 

While learning that the Chancellor used to want to be a Jedi will not fix all that ails our industry, he did have a lot to say regarding specific areas of government support which could help young people looking to work in the hospitality industry.

First and foremost, he recognised that the pandemic had damaged the economic opportunities of young people more than any other sector of society. He also was clear this was because of the disproportionate numbers of young people usually employed in hospitality and retail — two of the worse affected industries of the last year. This was reassuring. 

So what does the Chancellor think will help young people as they try to navigate the current challenging labour market?

For young entrepreneurs, registration is open for a new initiative launching in the autumn called ‘Help to Grow.’  This scheme will help newish companies by offering big discounts on management training (including mini-MBAs), and digital software. In combination with the existing Start Up loans that the government already boosted with additional funds last year, there are real opportunities for these young entrepreneurs, in hospitality and other sectors, to get support.

Like us, Jack Parsons and the Chancellor are big supporters of the Kickstart scheme and they reinforced their commitment to it today. Rishi confirmed that of the planned 250,000 young people Kickstart was funded to help, more than 100,000 had already found placements. Getting them all in post was proving difficult during the lockdown but should be a temporary issue. He said work continues on the process of assessing bids to enable the placement of the other 150,000 young people. If the scheme shows it makes a difference, he is willing to consider extending in beyond the end of the year. Great news.

The Chancellor had two practical suggestions for young people looking for ways to get ready for the world of work; he suggested young people approach their work coaches with the message, “the Chancellor sent me to talk about Digital Boot Camps and Traineeships.”

Digital Boot Camps are new, fully funded government training schemes to improve people’s digital skills. This sort of training will be increasingly important in the hospitality sector as we respond to the evolving needs of our customers. 

Traineeships are training opportunities, up to 6 months long, involving sector specific skills training and work placements. 

The additional funds announced in the Budget should enable triple the current numbers of young people to access these opportunities and increase the funds available to providers and employers. Statistics show that 75% of those who did traineeships went on to do more training or went into work.

The Chancellor wants all institutions —schools, workplaces and the government— to be mindful of just how big an impact the pandemic has had on the mental health of the nation, particularly its young people. We know more than most how important the wellbeing of our staff is to the overall health of our business. 

It was reassuring to hear that more than £2bn will go to the NHS to be spent on mental health over the next few years. He hoped this would help around 350,000 children and young people access the support they needed. A further £500m has also been provided just to tackle the mental health challenges of this year specifically.

One further piece of good news for the hospitality sector was confirmation that local authorities will receive Restart Grant funds in the week of 5 April. They should be distributing the £18,000 grant to hospitality businesses soon after that. 

Our industry needs keen, energetic, and intelligent young people willing to be part of the future of Hospitality and not just passing through on their way to other careers. Let’s hope that with schemes like Kickstart and the other measures mentioned today, the Chancellor is giving us a chance to achieve that goal.

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