Teachers from across Inverness have met with leading figures from Scotland’s food and drink industry to discuss the growing need for new, young talent in the hospitality sector.
Organised by Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) Inverness & Central Highland, Food and Drink Federation Scotland, CRU Holdings, Scotland Food and Drink and Skills Development Scotland, and hosted at PRIME restaurant, the event provided industry professionals with an opportunity to engage directly with those involved in influencing the careers of the next generation.
It comes at a crucial time for the industry, which is worth £14bn to the Scottish economy, as future growth is jeopardised by an increasing skills gap. With around 27,000 new job opportunities forecast over the next 10 years, the attending teachers were given a showcase the wide range of careers available throughout the food chain.
As well as highlighting the growing need for different skills, the event sought to promote the different pathways into the industry, including work experience, placements and modern apprenticeships, as well as the relevance of curriculum subjects to different careers and progression pathways.
Andy Maxtone, programme manager for DYW Inverness & Central Highland, said:
“The hospitality sector is one of the Highlands’ key growth sectors over the next ten years, however new research has revealed a stagnation of young people entering the industry, with InterContinental Hotels Group reporting that less than a quarter of young people consider a career in hospitality.
“It was a fantastic opportunity to provide teachers with insight from those involved with all levels of the food supply chain – from farmers to suppliers to restaurateurs – so they are armed with an understanding of the diverse and innovative industry as well as insight into where it’s headed in the future.”
Speakers for the evening included DYW’s Andy Maxtone, Food and Drink Federation Scotland’s Moira Stalker, Kenneth Loades of CRU Holdings, Cobbs Group’s Willie Cameron, Gary Williamson from Williamson Foodservice and farmer Richard Jones.
Moira Stalker, Skills Manager for Food and Drink Federation Scotland, said:
“This event showcased the variety of exciting careers available in food and drink and the many progression routes and pathways to access them. Students can now study a range of food and drink qualifications that lead from school directly into industry, like apprenticeships, or that take them to further and higher education.
“We hope the teachers that attended the event are inspired to use food and drink to bring their lessons to life.”
Kenneth Loades, operations director for Cru Holdings, said:
“As someone who has worked in hospitality since the age 14, it was my pleasure to host this event and look at how we can safeguard the hospitality industry in the Highlands. At Cru Holdings we encourage our team to build their career with us and remain in the industry, which has such a bright future. I hope the event will mark the start of an increased focus on the hospitality industry and on what a rewarding career path it can be for people from all walks of life.”
Willie Cameron, business development director of Cobbs Group said:
“We are entering uncharted waters as far as the hospitality and food and drink sector is concerned and require a joined up education programme to encourage students to take up hospitality as a career.
“The rural economy adds a huge contribution to the central pot, much of which is contributed by tourism and food and drink."
The event follows the announcement of Scotland’s Food Tourism Action Plan, which aims to put Scotland on the map as a leading culinary destination. To meet the ambitious plans laid out, it’s vital that a new generation of industry professionals are nurtured to lead the charge.