With Belfast’s skyline being transformed by a growing number of new hotel developments, being built in response to the record number of visitors the city is welcoming every year, a career in the hospitality sector can offer not only rewards and stability but also invaluable long term opportunities for development and advancement.
It is with this in mind that Belfast City Council has teamed up with two of the city’s newest hotels – the Hastings Grand Central Hotel Belfast and the Dalata Hotel Group’s Maldron Hotel Belfast City, both of which are due to open next year – to launch a new Hotel Employment Academy.
The initiative aims to help the two hotels recruit almost 200 staff and is open to anyone living in the Belfast City Council area who is currently out of work, or works less than 16 hours a week.
Launching the HEA, the Lord Mayor of Belfast, said:
“Belfast City Council recognises that creating viable, long-term job opportunities for our people is paramount to our vision for a successful and vibrant city, both now and in the future. By connecting people, and especially those currently out of work, to such opportunities, this new Academy supports the objectives of the Belfast Agenda to create 15,000 new jobs, as well as to double the economic value of out-of-state tourism and welcome 1.5 million overnight tourist stays, by 2021.”
The first Academy will start in January, with others taking place early in 2018. They will involve two weeks of intensive training in areas such as customer care, food safety, health and safety and manual handling, as well as practical experience in working in a hotel. Offering the skills needed for specific posts within the two new city centre hotels, everyone who completes the training will be guaranteed an interview.
In a joint statement, Stephen McNally, Deputy CEO of Dalata Hotel Group, and Howard Hastings, CEO of Hastings Hotels, spoke of their involvement in the new Academy:
“It is a very exciting time for us in the hotel industry, as it is one of almost unprecedented growth, with new developments the length and breadth of the city centre. Obviously, these developments represent a considerable financial commitment on behalf of ourselves and the other operators concerned. But, just as importantly, they are an investment in the city of Belfast – and its people. It is for this reason that we are delighted to be involved in this exciting initiative, which will ensure that as many people as possible have the opportunities to pursue a career in the hotel industry and the avail of the prospects it can open up for them.”
John McGrillen, Tourism NI Chief Executive commented:
“Tourism generates over £850 million for the local economy and attracting and retaining a skilled workforce is vital if we are to maintain momentum and deliver continued growth. Our culture, heritage and landscape and, above all our people, are our greatest tourism assets and the Hotel Academy scheme will ensure that those entering the tourism industry are equipped with skills and knowledge to maximise career opportunities and in turn increase business capacity and performance. I commend the private and public sector approach of this programme.”
A series of drop-in information sessions will be held at various locations across the city in the near future. For more information on these, and the Hotel Employment Academy, visit www.belfastcity.gov.uk/employment , call 9027 0482 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Department for Communities will be providing support in identifying participants who are currently out of work and connecting them to these job opportunities in the hospitality sector.
The Department for the Economy will be helping Dalata Hotel Group and Hastings Hotels recruit for specific roles within their hotels through their Bridge to Employment pre-employment training programme which is open to anyone from across Northern Ireland over the age of 18 who is unemployed.
The LEMIS+ Project is a key delivery partner supporting the roll out of the academies across the city. The LEMIS+ Project is led by Ashton Community Trust in partnership with East Belfast Mission, GEMS NI, Job Assist Centre Greater Shankill and Job Assist Centre West Belfast, and is part funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014 – 2020 and the Department for the Economy.