UNEET Project Fieldwork in Ulster, Ireland

The UNEET project aims to provide an innovative solution that goes beyond existing tools and practises, to foster the professional integration of young people by matching the recruitment needs of the HORECA sector with existing labour demand in the North-West regions using an open source Technology platform.

It aims to reinforce NEET’s (Not in education, employment or training) employability to facilitate their long-term professional integration, to overcome the difficulties encountered by companies in recruiting people and enhancing the attractiveness of the sector and also to raise candidates awareness on the existing transnational mobility opportunities.

In the last quarter of 2018, Donegal Local Development CLG has engaged in extensive fieldwork in relation to the UNEET Project as one of the seven European partners participating in the project.

This fieldwork can be divided into 3 categories of respondents

  1. Young People (90 questionnaire responses, 1 workshop, 4 interviews)
  2. Employers (24 questionnaire responses, 1 workshop, 5 interviews)
  3. Agencies (1 workshop, 5 interviews)


In each of the above categories, work was carried out through interviews, online questionnaires and workshops.  The outputs gained from each of these processes would prove vital in the design and implementation of the online portal - which is one of the main outputs of the UNEET Project.


In relation to the young people who participated, great insights were gained on their perception of the Hospitality industry, what was important to them when looking at career choices and also what attributes they felt would be of significant importance in working within the hospitality industry. There was also a very strong move towards digital interaction with potential employers as opposed to the more traditional methods used previously.


With employers, information received showed that they also were moving away from the more traditional methods of recruitment and it also highlighted certain skills gaps that exist which were leading to recruitment difficulties. The attributes which employers rated as most important when looking at staffing mirrored those that the young people had perceived as the personal attributes most beneficial to working in the hospitality industry such as self-confidence, willingness to learn etc.  All employers were aware that there was a lot of work required to improve the image of the hospitality industry. It was felt that the best way for this to be tackled was to clearly outline existing perceptions and to counteract this with real life stories to dispel the myths around the industry, highlighting career ambassadors and career progression models.

From an agency perspective (third level education providers, training boards and government employment agencies), there was very positive feedback in relation to looking at ways to better align the above two groups. Some fantastic ideas were generated on ways of working with the secondary level education providers to positively promote hospitality as a viable career option and also looking at developing career paths and matching these with education and training courses available to increase the numbers of skilled workers becoming available to the sector.  There was also a strong emphasis placed on the huge importance of soft skills for young people, in particular for NEET’s (not in education, training or employment).

The insights gained from all three groups have given us a great steer on what is important in the design of the online digital portal in order to ensure that it becomes the “go to” resource for both employment seekers and employers.

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