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Belfast Met Higher Level Apprentice takes part in panel discussion

News and Events
Published: 8 March 2022

Higher Level Apprentice Gavin Magee at the College was invited to take part in this key event with leaders from the Hospitality and FE sectors to discuss post pandemic opportunities for exciting new careers in hospitality.


Gavin is currently studying Hospitality & Tourism Management at Belfast Met, employed by Adair Arms Hotel in Ballymena Management. He believes that his course is enabling him to further develop the skills necessary for the next steps in his career, and that the training he has received so far has given him further knowledge of the different types of leadership to produce better outcomes and responses to the different situations that arise in the industry

Over 100 people joined this online event to showcase how both elements are working together, now, and in the future, to harness new skilled talent, hosted by Northern Regional College. It comes at a time when pandemic restrictions have been lifted, allowing the hospitality sector to work to regain its status as a sector which, pre-covid, contributed around £2billion to the NI Economy. Working collaboratively, it is now recognised that the revitalisation of the hospitality sector offers a significant opportunity to those currently studying or about to progress onward from Further Education.

The audience heard that the hospitality sector, the fourth largest private sector employer here, is in prime position to present people of all ages an interesting, life-long career with opportunities for growth and development. As the hospitality sector enters a period of renewal, the industry is encouraging more young people to consider a career in hospitality which offers progress and flexibility in an exciting, lively sector.

The important role of the Further Education Colleges in training and developing the talent pool for the hospitality sector was highlighted with panellists giving live examples of the joint partnerships between hospitality businesses and colleges in ensuring the right skills and knowledge are distilled into the next generation of hospitality leaders.

‘Further Education and Hospitality: Collaborative Partners on the road to recovery’ panellists included Chief Executive of Hospitality Ulster, Colin Neill, Managing Director of The Galgorm Group, Colin Johnston, Northern Regional College Vice Principal Christine Brown and Higher-Level Apprentice in Hospitality Management from Belfast Metropolitan College, Gavin Magee.

The Further Education colleges across Northern Ireland offer a range of courses for learners of all abilities seeking a career in the hospitality and tourism sector including Level 1 qualifications to Foundation Degrees in Hospitality, Management, Tourism and Culinary Arts and Higher-Level Apprenticeships giving students opportunities to access hands-on experience and the first step into fulfilling careers.

The event follows the launch of the Hospitality Employers Charter. Developed by Hospitality Ulster, and endorsed by all six Further Education Colleges, the Charter is designed to ensure that those signed up in creating a sustainable workforce for the future which offers great career prospects.

Chief Executive and Principal of Northern Regional College, Mel Higgins said:

“The Further Education Colleges and the hospitality sector works in partnership to ensure that the skilled workforce required for the bustling economic driving industry is available.

“All six colleges offer excellent hospitality courses, from Level 1 qualifications all the way to foundation degrees, extending opportunities for all ages and abilities. We encourage those leaving school or looking a career to consider a role in hospitality and the range of courses at further education colleges.

“We were delighted to endorse the Hospitality Employers Charter earlier in the year, and it was fantastic to hear from the hospitality leaders on the panel about how they plan to ensure that staff development lies at the heart of their business approach moving forward. The Colleges and the hospitality sector are well positioned to meet the needs of the NI Economy acting as a springboard for more students to enter the hospitality route as an exciting career pathway.”

Colin Neill, Chief Executive of Hospitality Ulster said:

“The Further Education Colleges offer a fantastic kickstart to a career in hospitality, offering a range of courses in a number of the many facets of the industry including catering, bartending and management.

“It was great to meet with our colleagues from within the FE sector and discuss how we can continue to work collaboratively to showcase hospitality as an exciting career pathway with many opportunities for growth and development.

“Part of that work is the newly launched Hospitality Employers Charter on which we were thrilled to receive endorsement from all six Colleges on. The purpose of the Charter is to give employers the toolkits to provide training and development opportunities for staff, creating a more professional centred environment from within hospitality which will hopefully be the catalyst for many to consider hospitality as the right career move for them.

“The hospitality sector is gearing up to get back to proper business once again, with the goal of building back to our previous position of Northern Ireland’s 4th largest private sector employer, contributing £2bn to the economy each year. This means that endless opportunities are there for anyone considering a move to an exciting career in a growing, vibrant sector. We will continue to work with our colleagues in the further education sector to push the message that hospitality is here and open to excellent, skilled workers who can add value to our revitalising sector.”

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