The hospitality sector in the UK employs 3.2 million people, produces £130 billion of economic activity and is the third largest private sector employer, representing 10% of UK employment. It is a major part of the tourism industry and contributes to a significant export industry that makes the UK an important destination.

Furthermore, it is a sector that is growing – for instance the number of hosting and food services facilities has grown nearly 20% in the last five years providing more than 330,000 working opportunities.

Despite these positive trends, however, the sector is facing many challenges. A career in hospitality is viewed differently in the UK to many other European countries and this ‘cultural bias’ is reflected in a deeply held antipathy towards the sector from too many parents, careers advisers and teachers.

At the same time the UK hospitality industry is projected to face severe and increasing skills and employment shortages in the coming years, particularly in London, which is expected to be worsened by the impact of Brexit.

At Rinova we have been developing a number of initiatives with our partners in the hospitality sector in London, and we are looking forward to announcing several of these soon.  In the meantime, we were delighted to launch the new 3-year Erasmus+ project Hospitality Employer Ambassador (HEA).

HEA is all about improving the ability of those who are involved in education-industry links (i.e. VET organisations, trade associations, chambers and similar) to work better at bringing together young people, careers advisers and teachers, and employers from the hospitality industry.

A Hospitality Employer Ambassador is a hospitality company founder, manager, or someone in a HR/training personnel role, or it can be someone who works in the hospitality industry – who can act as a role model for young people and communicate with them about work and training opportunities in the sector. These employers may be acting as guest speakers, arranging ‘tasters’, setting up work placements, be involved in PR, or organise work-based learning and apprenticeships and help those entering the industry to progress.

The idea for the HEA project was inspired by our ESFA Careers Cluster project, Pan Out, which ended earlier this year.  Pan Out was a fantastic success – it involved 18 innovative employer-engaged pilots, 6500 pupils, 220 teachers and 12 schools. Now, together with our colleagues in London, Learn Train Recruit (LTR), the project lead,  we will be sharing this know-how through HEA with our partners Dimitra (Greece), the Chamber of Commerce of Zaragoza (Spain), MMC (Cyprus), Folkuniversitetet (Sweden) and the National Association of Incoming Tourism for North Macedonia – and to learning from the practices and solutions that they have developed in tourism and hospitality in their countries.

Pictured right: The HEA partners at the launch meeting of the project, hosted by Learn Train Recruit on the 29th and 30th January.

We are working very closely with LTR on implementing the project in London, and are starting the project with a programme of consultation and engagement with sector employers.  In September, LTR will host a conference in London to share what we have done so far and look ahead to the next steps.

In the meantime, LTR will shortly be launching the project website and we will update this article once this is done.  If you would like to know more about the HEA project, or are interested in getting involved, contact Amanda Francis at



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