The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson is  helping to deliver hundreds of new apprenticeships and jobs for young people in the hospitality industry. The Mayor has joined forces with the British Hospitality Association (BHA) to host a City Hall ‘Hospitality Conversation’ bringing together business executives from companies including Nando’s, Whitbread and Costa and matching them with unemployed 16-24 year olds who are eager to start careers in the sector.

The British Hospitality Association have joined the Mayor’s Apprenticeship Campaign and pledged to create 7,000 new jobs in London by the end of 2016. Yesterday’s event focused on roles in the restaurant trade and include a careers fair where employers can interview potential candidates and offer on the job opportunities and placements.

A recent found that 16 per cent of UK hotels and 13 per cent of restaurants complained of consistent, long-term difficulties in filling vacancies, overwhelmingly due to widespread skills shortages.The Big Hospitality Conversation is a joint initiative between the British Hospitality Association, Springboard and Business in the Community aimed at bringing together business leaders in the sector with young people to deliver skills and employment and boost economic growth.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “Apprenticeships are a fantastic way of getting young people into work and offer invaluable training and insight. Businesses of every scale can benefit from having bright, hardworking, ambitious young people in their company and I want to thank all the firms in the capital who have already hired an apprentice and urge even more to get on board.“

Ufi Ibrahim, CEO of the British Hospitality Association said:  “Hospitality is a successful industry with even greater growth prospects offering a vast range of job opportunities for all job seekers of any age. The breadth of job roles and the training available means that bright and focused young people can succeed very quickly. We welcome young people to come along to the event to hear from insiders about how they started out in their careers. At the City Hall event businesses will be offering on the spot job opportunities, so a young job seeker could start the day unemployed and leave with a job. Where, in any other industry, would that happen?”

Keynote speaker at the event, the Deputy Mayor of London for business and enterprise, Kit Malthouse, said: “Helping London businesses to succeed and getting young people into meaningful employment are top priorities at City Hall. The hospitality sector is having a significant impact on London’s growing economy, but our job market still has work to do in reducing youth unemployment and training a skilled workforce. The sector is well placed to create apprenticeships and work experience, so I am thrilled that that the Big Hospitality Conversation has arrived here in City Hall to marry the experience of sector professionals with the enthusiasm of eager young people.”

This week the Mayor also launched a major campaign to encourage more of the capitals 800,000 small to medium firms to hire apprentices. The campaign will be advertised across the city including on London Underground posters, advertising screens, digital media and newspapers.

The Mayor’s Ambassador for Training and Enterprise, Tim Campbell, said: “The brilliant apprentices I met at the awards are the tip of the iceberg of young talent in London. Apprentices are hard-working, highly motivated people with the initiative and courage to find ways of learning new skills and earning money at the same time. Far from being a cost to business, apprenticeships should be seen as an investment by employers. Where that investment is nurtured, the returns to the businesses are tremendous .”

One of the young people taking part in the awards, Apprentice Shaida Khanom, aged 20, is currently on a placement at Visa Europe. She said: “This has given me the foundations to build a successful career and everyday I’m challenged with exciting projects. Apprenticeships build character knowledge, expertise, maturity and the skills needed by tomorrows business leaders. Apprenticeships are a great alternative to higher education.“

The Mayor is working with the National Apprenticeship Service and London businesses to help over 40,000 people start an apprenticeship every year in the capital. Since launching his Apprenticeship Campaign, around 160,000 new apprenticeships have been created.