A multi-million pound drive to breathe life into Westminster’s world-class hospitality and leisure industry by tackling record staffing shortages launches today, Monday 10 October 2022.
The initiative, created in partnership by Step Ahead, New West End Company, Knightsbridge Partnership, Step Ahead Recruitment Agency and AttisTowns and funded by Westminster City Council, is the first of its kind in the UK, and may serve as a blueprint for tourism and hospitality hubs across the country.
Devised and developed by more than 100 hospitality and leisure industry-leaders in the area, ‘Westminster Works’ will aim to fill 2,200 vacancies at hotels, restaurants, bars, cafes, clubs, casinos and other eligible venues across Westminster by March 2024.
The scheme will in tandem secure better job conditions and prospects for thousands of sector workers under its Westminster Works Good Employer Pledge. The initiative launches as the number of job vacancies in the UK’s hospitality and leisure sectors has risen by almost 100,000 since before the onset of the pandemic in early 2020.
Westminster, which includes the entertainment and leisure mecca of the West End, is home to 3,700 restaurants, bars and cafes and a further 4,000 leisure businesses supporting 120,000 jobs in the city.
Free and open to all hospitality and leisure businesses in Westminster, all participating employers will be asked to sign a Westminster Works pledge that makes clear commitments to prospective employees straddling three pillars: Respect, Reward, Progression.
Among the commitments, employers will be required to guarantee that they will pay at least the London Living Wage. There will also be a pledge to listening and responding to employees’ issues; championing diversity and inclusion; adapting working practices when specifically needed; offering more flexible hours and a better work-life balance; paying a salary that reflects job importance; and providing additional benefits and support for career progression.
In addition to actively promoting vacancies for all “Westminster Works” businesses in Westminster and beyond at no cost, the service will focus on attracting those not currently in the employment pool, such as early retirees, parents, carers, people with learning difficulties and ex-offenders. The scheme will also offer training and support to businesses to ensure the effective implementation of the Westminster Works pledge for each business that signs up.
Jobseekers can register with the scheme using the newly launched website – www.westminster.works.
The scheme is run by the town centre vitality agency, AttisTowns, and recruitment agency, Step Ahead, under the leadership of the New West End Company and Knightsbridge Partnerships, the Business Improvement Districts for London’s two International Centres and supported by all of Westminster’s BIDs.
This £1m business support programme has been awarded by the City Council as part of their Additional Restrictions Grant allocation, distributed by the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as part of the Covid-19 emergency response to support businesses. The programme’s training element will be funded by £2m from the Mayor’s Adult Education Budget and the Apprenticeship Levy, and will be delivered in partnership with Westminster Kingsway College and Westminster Adult Education Service.
Geoff Barraclough, Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development at Westminster City Council, said:
“We are very proud to be the first council in the country to launch a scheme of this kind, which tackles the urgent recruitment crisis that the hospitality and leisure industries are facing.
“This will be a win-win for both businesses and workers, and we hope that Westminster Works becomes a model for similar schemes across the entire country to help the industry get back on its feet. I urge eligible businesses to sign up now.”
Kate Nichols, CEO of UKHospitality, added:
“The number of job vacancies in the hospitality sector has reached record highs and this scheme could not come soon enough for those dedicated and hard-working businesses that have been poleaxed by Covid, both during the restrictions caused by the pandemic and the after-effects as they try to recover.
“Workers will be afforded better working and employment conditions under this scheme, which is increasingly important in the current cost of living crisis.”
Paul Barnes, Programme Director for AttisTowns: added:
“It is a challenging landscape for hospitality and leisure businesses at the moment. Along with our partners at Step Ahead, we will be providing businesses with solutions for their staffing shortages and opening up a world of opportunities for workers and new entrants looking for a fulfilling and rewarding career with committed employers.”
Jackie Bedford, CEO at Step Ahead says:
“We are thrilled to be working with the UK’s flagship of Hospitality and Leisure to help to educate London’s jobseekers about the breadth and variety of jobs and career opportunities that are available in this sector.”