September 2022

University spearheads new hospitality taskforce backed by top city chefs

By Melanie Hall

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Around 100 guests including hospitality industry leaders and top Birmingham chefs are set to take part in an open forum to launch a newly-created taskforce to encourage people of all ages into a career in hospitality and support employers.

The West Midlands Hospitality Taskforce, which is spearheaded by University College Birmingham in collaboration with the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and other key regional stakeholders, is celebrating its first-year anniversary.

It is set to be officially unveiled by West Midlands Mayor Andy Street at the University’s Restaurant at Birmingham College of Food on Thursday 8 September.

Attendees are set to include representatives from local restaurants, hotels and hospitality venues and organisations including UK Hospitality, Institute of Hospitality, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce and key sector ambassadors.

"The work being done by this taskforce is so vitally important, to showcase how great the sector is, the opportunities on offer and the really rewarding careers that people can have in the sector."

Glynn Purnell Chair of West Midlands Hospitality Taskforce

Chaired by acclaimed Birmingham chef Glynn Purnell from Purnell’s, the fledgling collaboration has already made significant inroads into finding exciting ways to attract new talent and retaining staff, upskill people to learn new skills to enhance their career in hospitality and provide better support, locally and regionally.

Key members on the taskforce include Dishoom in Centenary Square, Malmaison Hotels, Warner/Bourne Leisure and Aston Villa Football Club.

Other major players include representatives from the DWP, National Careers Service (Prospects), Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, BID and Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP and PET-Xi.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Hospitality is a real strong suit for us here in the West Midlands. The sector has the potential to be a major growth area and job creator in our region in the coming months and years – despite the many pressures and challenges we’re facing.

“That’s why I’m pleased to be a part of this taskforce – convening leading lights of hospitality across our region to give advice, share ideas and help hospitality thrive.

“As we bounce back from Covid-19, I want to see us linking up our local talent with the opportunities on offer in hospitality – supporting the 100k jobs plan which is a key part of our mayoral mission.”

University College Birmingham is internationally renowned for its food and hospitality training and award-winning restaurant

Chef Glynn Purnell said: “Through our new taskforce, we have already been working with training providers and businesses across the region to formulate the Hospitality Training Plan, bring new training providers on board with a collective goal and expand opportunity for residents to get involved.

“We’ve funded over £500,000 worth of training through our AEB on a range of programmes, including SWAPs and Sector Gateway and, to date, we have seen nearly 1,000 enrolments on training specific to hospitality and over 10% of those who have undertaken training move into work in the sector.

“But we all know the challenges the sector faces with recruitment and retaining staff, which is why the work being done by this taskforce is so vitally important, to showcase how great the sector is, the opportunities on offer and the really rewarding careers that people can have in the sector.”

Facilitated by former BBC business and transport correspondent Peter Plisner, the event will focus on three key topic areas.

These are the employment needs of the sector moving forward and the barriers to meet people needs of employers, skills challenges in bringing new people to the sector and attracting people from different sectors, and upskilling based upon industry challenges.

Also under discussion will be the challenges of moving to net zero and decarbonising the sector, while fostering innovation to drive faster growth and a quicker move to decarbonisation.

It will seek to establish what needs to be achieved both locally and regionally and what the taskforce can lobby for from government, and urge businesses to promote job opportunities through the Way to Work website and collaborate with DWP on ensuring vacancies are advertised in each locality.

There will also be a video presentation from Chef Publishing and the ‘Choose Hospitality’ campaign, case studies and a live cooking demonstration organised by Birmingham College of Food.

If you are an employer and would like to join the Hospitality Taskforce, which will hold quarterly meetings, or learn more about skills and training opportunities available, please contact

Find out more about University College Birmingham's food and hospitality training at our Birmingham College of Food.

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