WestKing launches Mayor’s Academy Hub to help Londoners get into hospitality careers

Leading culinary college Westminster Kingsway College has launched a new Mayor of London Academy Hub to fast-track Londoners into hospitality careers.

The Hospitality Academy Hub will work with employers to provide skills training to create jobs and help the capital’s economic recovery from the COVID pandemic.

Capital City College Group (CCCG), which includes WestKing, secured £250,000 to run the hub after a successful bid to the Mayor’s Academies Programme.

The hospitality industry employs 568,000 people across London and contributes £17 billion to the capital’s economy a year.

The new hub will provide work-based training programmes with employers that will help people into careers as chefs or front of house, housekeeping and security roles.

Gary Hunter, Deputy Executive Principal of CCCG, said: “The Hospitality Academy Hub will provide London with a newly trained hospitality workforce that will ignite innovation in the industry and maintain London’s reputation as a culinary capital of the world. It will provide huge support to the sector, which has just gone through the worst time in recent memory. It will help businesses build back stronger than they’ve ever been with employees with the right skills.

“The hub will give us the opportunity to connect with new and existing employers to provide a joined-up approach across London to provide skills training to progress people into the hospitality industry. Students will be given up-to-date, industry relevant skills, so they are fit for purpose, not just for today, but for the future.”

WestKing is home to one of the UK’s most prestigious hospitality and culinary schools with a legacy dating back more than 100 years.

The hub has been backed by the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, Craft Guild of Chefs, Institute of Hospitality, UK Hospitality and The Worshipful Company of Cooks. Employer partners include The Ivy Group, Sodexo, Fuller’s, CH&CO, Lexington and Atul Kochhar Restaurant Group.

There will be a strong emphasis on supporting those from under-represented and disadvantaged backgrounds including black and ethnic minorities, low earners, single parents, young people, caregivers, the disabled and unemployed.

Gary said: “WestKing has strong relationships with industry bodies and selected education partners right across the different categories of hospitality whether that’s restaurants, hotels, contract catering or events.

“We train to high industry standards with fully equipped kitchens and two award-winning restaurants. We have a strong industry-facing teaching team, so we know what hospitality needs from newly skilled or reskilled employees.

“Our aim is for the hub to be a focus point for hospitality training in London. We will work with employer groups to ascertain where the vacancies and the skills shortages are, and also find new ways of engaging with potential students by working with charities and other agencies to devise flexible training and create an employee pipeline to meet industry needs.”

CCCG was also successful in winning bids to run Digital, Creative and Green hubs. The Green Academy Hub will be run by WestKing’s sister college, the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) in partnership with Waltham Forest College.