UNEET Project Fieldwork in Munster, Ireland

Ballyhoura Development CLG is one of 6 European partners working on the UNEET Project which is focused on supporting employment of young people aged 16 to 29 in the hospitality, restaurant and catering sectors (HORECA). The project aims to address the skills shortage within these key sectors, by developing and implementing an innovative online platform which will serve as a ‘go to’ resource for both employers and young people seeking employment in these sectors. Currently, partners are in the process of gathering information from young people and employers to feed into the development of an online platform.

As part of this process, Ballyhoura Development is carrying out a number of research exercises in the Munster area. Young people of a range of ages and educational backgrounds have already responded to a questionnaire designed for them. Groups of young people have also taken part in workshops designed to gain deeper insight into their thoughts and ideas.

Participants in these workshops were asked to partake in a ‘create a business’ exercise whereby teams created a bar, restaurant or hotel. They were then asked to answer a series of questions which would result in the design of a recruitment and selection strategy for their business.

The strategies they designed helped to identify the type of recruitment system that they would be happiest to engage with and the elements of a job package which would appeal to them.

Some of the points noted are as follows;

 The social aspect of work and a good work-life balance is important to young people

 Heavy emphasis on formal qualifications in the recruitment and selection process may be off-putting for some young job-seekers

 Unsurprisingly, social media has emerged as one of a young person’s preferred places to look for job ads

 Upskilling opportunities greatly increase the appeal of a role in the HORECA sector

HORECA sector employers from a variety of business types and sizes in the Munster area have also responded to a questionnaire targeted at them and interviews have been conducted with several employers to gain further insight into their thoughts on the project. These interviews have served to highlight some of the main issues which employers face in their recruitment efforts and what they feel could be done to combat those issues. Obstacles pointed out include, among others;

 The sector being wrongly perceived as an unattractive one to work in

 The high costs associated with recruitment

 Difficulties overcoming skills shortages in many key areas of the sector
Similar interviews will be carried out with young people in the coming days and weeks.

All of these efforts contribute to gaining a detailed understanding of how the UNEET project can best serve the needs of young unemployed people and the HORECA sector in Munster. The outputs of the project will be designed to align youth unemployment and HORECA sector skills shortages in a way that allows each of these problems to become a solution for the other!

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