Skills East Sussex sector task groups

Visitor & Cultural Economy Task Group

The Visitor & Cultural Economy Task Group comprises employers and education professionals from organisations such as:

  • De La Warr Pavilion
  • University of Brighton
  • The View Hotel
  • East Sussex College Group
  • The Beacon

There are huge challenges in East Sussex related to recruitment and skills in this sector. Before the Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown the task group was addressing the severe lack of chefs and hospitality managers in the county. It was also looking at the wider skills shortage in the sector.

Post lockdowns, external challenges include rising costs for businesses and customers.  The group are exploring innovative ways of recruitment and getting the right skills at the right time. 

Julie Barker
Julie Barker

Chair of Visitor & Cultural Economy Task Group, Julie Barker, MIoD, FIH, PGcert

Julie has a breadth of experience at Board and Chair level from her 30-year award-winning career within the hospitality industry. Julie is a specialist in stakeholder engagement. She has direct experience of leading large multi-disciplinary teams and interfacing with complex client bodies, national and regional organisations and institutions. Julie is a qualified chef and a ‘total foodie’. She is a tenacious and passionate advocate of the industry and aims to encourage new talent to choose the hospitality industry as a ‘career of choice’. Julie is an independent consultant specialising in public and third sector service delivery, working on a consultancy, non-executive director (NED) and interim leadership basis.

Task group activities

In 2019-2021 the task group undertook the following activity:

  • Certain task group members helped to establish the View Hotel in Eastbourne as a 'Hotel of Excellence'. The View will provide long-term placements for students at the University of Brighton. They will also provide five 50-day placements for East Sussex College group students as part of their new T-level provision.
  • In November 2019, students and staff from the University of Brighton ran an Open Doors (workplace visit) session at the View Hotel. The secondary school pupils completed work-related tasks. Some pupils enjoyed it so much that they want to find out more about careers in the sector.
  • In March 2020 some members of the task group met online with their counterparts from Kent. Colleagues shared good practice and planned a joint conference to encourage more employers to join the Task Group. These collaborative and strategic forums that will help the sector address the many challenges it is facing.

For the East Sussex Careers Campaign the task group agreed to promote the following roles:

  • Chef
  • Hotel and restaurant managers.

Task group update Spring 2021

  • The recent meeting on 20 January 2021 was held during the sector's lowest ebb. All hospitality venues, apart from those doing take away food, have closed due to the lockdown. Despite this, a good number of members, including employers attended the meeting.
  • The discussion reflected the low mood with several industries within hospitality. These include events, weddings, and hotels. They are reporting a lack of adequate support for their businesses.
  • Several members expressed concern about the possible skills shortage when the premises can open this summer. This could be made worse by the effect of Brexit. The sector has provided a lot of work to European Union (EU) nationals who may not be allowed to come to the UK because of the new rules. Thousands of language students who bring several million pounds to the local economy also won't be coming this year.
  • There is concern that more hospitality courses in university are being withdrawn because of the negative effects of lockdown upon the sector.
  • Sally Staples, the Cultural Strategy Manager for East Sussex, reported that the sector is hoping to see a steeper recovery than the economic crisis in 2008. The South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) has some funding available: The Sector Support Fund (SSF) is grant led and supports one-off discrete pan-Sussex pieces of work. Sussex Modern has been part of a consortium of funding to Visit Essex, Visit Kent and Sussex Modern for marketing and promotion of the area. Sussex Modern aims to target the niche brand of long-staying, high spending tourists through promotion of local viticulture and culture venues. Visit Kent are bringing in an external company to manage customer sentiment tracking for the sector.
  • The Task Group has welcomed new members, including those from the Institute of Hospitality.

Visitor Economy Task Group meetings

Please find below the minutes of the latest meetings.

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