"It will be a source of opportunities for individuals to get real insight into the rich array of hospitality-related roles across the tourism industry here in North Wales."
The Go North Wales Tourism & Hospitality Academy is being launched by North Wales Tourism in partnership with universities and colleges across North Wales.
And thanks to a sponsorship deal with the region’s top catering wholesaler, Harlech Foodservice, membership will be free of charge during its first 18 months.
North Wales Tourism managing director Jim Jones said that the academy would bring together for the first time students, hospitality employees, employers and colleges across the region. It could help stave off looming staff shortages.
He said: “It will be a source of opportunities for individuals to get real insight into the rich array of hospitality-related roles across the tourism industry here in North Wales. Finally we will have something that joins the dots, because we need to ensure a healthy pipeline of future recruits.”
“By taking action at regional level now, we can help raise the profile of the tourism hospitality trade as a career choice, and to recruit the next generation of employees and leaders.”
“It’s really important to make every effort to get positive engagement with tourism and hospitality students. They go to college and get the training and skills but they also need to experience the job and hear from people working in it.
“The academy will be relevant to every student, whether studying for a tourism and hospitality-related NVQ or a degree.”
During the first year, the virtual academy will launch a web portal showing job opportunities, and for connecting students and pupils to work experience opportunities.
The portal is being developed by students at Coleg Llandrillo.
The academy will stage behind the scenes visits to tourism businesses and deliver workshops on hospitality-related topics at the North Wales Tourism headquarters in Colwyn Bay and other places across North Wales.
Networking events with guest speakers will also be held for hospitality trade business representatives, as well as students and employees, to attend.
Students and hospitality employees will also receive regular e-newsletters.
Jim Jones added: “While our sector is on the crest of a wave, and the 2017 season could be a record-breaker, we know that operators fear staff shortages in future may restrict growth.
“Our academy will teach that there are plenty of opportunities for fulfilling careers, not just in catering or leisure and amenity management, but in all those essential ancillary disciplines such as HR, finance, IT, trades such as plumbing and joinery and even engineers to service hotel lifts and attraction rides.
“Here in North Wales, we’ve got higher educational institutions that excel in tourism hospitality training. New hotels are going to be built and more attractions and food outlets opened. They’re all going to need staff, and people entering the sector now could be starting at just the right time to launch rewarding careers.”
Harlech Foodservice managing director, Andrew Foskett, said: “We supply hundreds of hotels, cafes, pubs and restaurants all over the region. We talk to our customers all the time and know there are already shortages of chefs and front of house staff.
“Jim approached us to help fund this portal for people looking for training courses and careers in tourism hospitality.
“It’s a pioneering initiative and we are pleased to do something positive to say thank you and support our customers.”
Headquartered in Criccieth, with depots in Chester and Shrewsbury serving the borders and mid-Wales, Harlech Foods itself has a turnover of £32m and employs 217 people.
Founded in 1972, the family-owned firm acquired a local wholesale butchery back in 2012, which has rapidly expanded to offer discerning chefs the convenience of ordering their meat on the same foodservice delivery.
After the first 18 months, an annual membership fee of £25 will apply.