Hospitality Gets Behind Kickstart Initiative With Free Online Portal

The HospitalityUnite website, set up to help hospitality workers find alternative employment during lockdown, is now switching focus to support the Government’s Kickstart initiative for young people with the backing of leading trade association UKHospitality, Springboard, The Scottish Tourism Alliance and The Youth Group.

It will provide a free online service to make it easy for both hospitality businesses and those 16-24 year-olds wanting to start a career in the restaurant, pub, hotel, bar and wider leisure sector to take advantage of the new Government funded scheme.

As part of the UK’s recovery strategy, the Government is putting £2bn into the Kickstart programme which will fund six months of 25 hours a week work at national minimum wage for 16-24 year olds, giving them a ‘kickstart’ into their working lives.

Only Government approved candidates can apply to Kickstart roles and these candidates are being directed to HospitalityUnite jobs courtesy of The Youth Group and its partnership with the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) assessors. The Youth Group, a youth-first company which improves opportunities for young people, has a community of 1.5 million looking to build a career in the current challenging post-COVID environment.

The original HospitalityUnite not-for-profit jobs portal was created in March free-of-charge by the team at Harri, the online people management platform. This new initiative has already secured commitment from several hospitality groups, including BrewDog, Burger King UK and The Ivy Collection, and the HospitalityUnite team expects more than 200 businesses to sign up.

Operating companies taking part will receive exclusive access to these approved candidates and free use of the hiring platform to post jobs, screen candidates, conduct video interviewing and send offer letters. Free employability training will also be available.

At the beginning of lockdown, Harri set up the website initiative, with the backing of UK Hospitality and The Scottish Tourism Alliance, to bring together businesses in other sectors such as care and retail to support hospitality staff with short term employment stop gaps while their sites were closed. Working with the likes of Amazon, Waitrose, Care UK and Morrisons it processed over 300,000 applications.

“The need for homegrown talent in hospitality will be vital through the course of 2021. Brexit barriers to entry for ‘unskilled’ workers post 1st January will make these Kickstart applicants all the more crucial to the industry’s revival. We welcome all operators throughout hospitality and tourism to join the HospitalityUnite Kickstart initiative, which in partnership with The Youth Group, will seamlessly process your Government application on your behalf again at no charge,” said Harri director Pete Willis.

Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality, which is supporting the initiative, said: “This is a really positive way of promoting the Government’s Kickstart programme, set up to assist sectors like ours. We know from experience that hospitality benefits hugely from the enthusiasm, talents and innovation of young people in its workforce. As hospitality embarks on a journey of recovery after the impacts of the Covid crisis, those attributes will be more valuable than ever, and the portal will be a great access point for people looking to break into exciting hospitality careers.”

Marc Crothall, Chief Executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance commented: “This is another great initiative from the team at Harri which the Scottish Tourism Alliance is delighted to support, alongside our colleagues at UKHospitality. As we move into the remaining weeks of furlough which so many within our industry have relied upon, and beyond, HospitalityUnite will without doubt be seen as a much needed and very welcome ‘go to’ for both our members and all of those seeking out opportunities in our tourism and hospitality sector. It’s hugely reassuring to see such a strong commitment from so many high profile organisations and I very much hope that many will follow suit to support the sector and employment opportunities for our young people.”

Jack Parsons, CEO of The Youth Group and the UK’s Chief Youth Officer, commented: “A Government initiative like the Kickstart scheme excites me because it will really support our youth. I’m extremely thrilled to be part of HospitalityUnite to help the hospitality industry engage and develop young people. It’s so important that we change the narrative when it comes to hospitality jobs because like any industry there are some real success stories in growing a career in hospitality. Harri and the wider community supporting this initiative know the industry very well and it’s great to join forces”.

James Brown, Managing Director of BrewDog Retail, which is also supporting the scheme, added: “BrewDog are delighted to support the HospitalityUnite initiative who are helping both job seekers and supporting businesses looking utilise the government’s Kickstart collective scheme.  The hospitality industry has been hit hard with the Covid crisis and we are both proud to support HospitalityUnite and champion its cause to our friends and peers within our sector.”

Chris Gamm, CEO of The Springboard Charity, said: “The Government has committed a huge amount of support to getting young people into work through Plan for Jobs, and any initiative that helps operators tap into this should be highly commended. Springboard’s mission is to help future-proof the hospitality talent pipeline and we look forward to working with Harri to support the industry and young people to get into work.”

Alasdair Murdoch, CEO at Burger King UK, added: “Burger King UK is delighted to share its partnership with both Harri and the trade associations. The Kickstart initiative is a fantastic scheme that comes at a vitally important time for the industry. It will help many young people start their career or get them back into employment right across the hospitality sector. Burger King will be using the initiative as an active way to get 16-24-year olds into the workplace, as it continues to open new restaurants throughout 2021.”

Baton Berisha, Managing Director for Caprice Holdings, The Ivy Collection and Bill’s Restaurant & Bar, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting the Government’s Kickstart initiative across Caprice Holdings, The Ivy Collection and Bill’s Restaurant & Bar. We’ll be working with Hospitality Unite to help support and onboard new employees, giving 16-24 year olds the skills, tools and experience required for them to build a successful career in the world of hospitality.”