Visitor Economy Minutes 21 November 2023

Visitor Economy Minutes 21 November 2023

Meeting details

Minutes of Visitor and Cultural Economy Task Group

On Tuesday 21st November 2023, 15:00 – 16:30

Online only

Attendees and apologies




Organisation and Role


Julie Barker

Task Group CHAIR, Independent Consultant


Debby Anderson

Hastings Voluntary Action, Hastings and Rother Food Network


Christina Ewbank

Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce, Chief Executive


Jack Scott

ESCC, Enterprise Coordinator, Special Educational Needs (SEND)


Debbie Cole

Bexhill 6th Form College


Andy Pritchard

Bexhill College, Assistant Principal


Martin Blincow

Mermaid Inn, Rye


Mandy Curtis

18 Hours


Daniel Burgess

DWP Job Advisors


Hannah Brookshaw

East Sussex County Council, Partnerships and Projects Manager


Laura Collier

ESCC, Senior Business Administrator



Kim Bulgin

ESCC, Culture & Tourism Project Cooridinator


Caroline Bragg

ESCC, Employability & Skills Strategy Manager

Actions arising from this meeting

Actions arising from this meeting, 21st November 2023




Actions 3 – 5 from the previous meeting to be carried over to the next meeting


By next meeting

Action 1: JB to approach Alex Polizzi with regard to getting Marcus Wareing involved.


Update at next meeting

Action 2: JB to engage with the Royal Academy on using the celebrity chef effect to promote the hospitality sector.


Update at next meeting

Action 3: Progress the 3 actions identified and feedback at next meeting (career hub opportunities, celebrity chef approach, trader/shopping area association engagement)


By next meeting

1) Welcome

JB welcomed all in attendance.

2) Review of previous minutes and actions

Review of previous minutes with no amendments.

  • Action 1 from previous meeting ongoing – meeting with Eastbourne Hospitality Association in the process of being arranged.
  • Action 2 is on today’s agenda.
  • Actions 3 to 5 to be carried over to January meeting as per agreed timescales:

Action 3: Results of RDC skills gap audit to be included on agenda - spring 2024.

Action 4: Sally Staples will update on the Visit England restructure and its impact – February 2024 meeting.

Action 5: Develop priority action plan – February 2024 meeting.

3) Data trends for the sector

HB now has access to a data system which shows labour market intelligence across East Sussex, with data pulled in from multiple sources. Presentation shared with the minutes. Highlighted points:

  • The most job adverts are in Eastbourne
  • The top job posts are for care workers and nurses
  • Average salary in East Sussex is £28,600 compared to £31,600 nationally
  • Skills for the future: human skills that AI can’t replicate, ability to make social connections, negotiation/diplomacy, ability to use old and new technology, desire to learn and be adaptable.
  • In accommodation providers sector there were 1,671 jobs advertised in 2022, 9% below average with £26,492 average wage
  • Chefs are a hospitality sector hot spot with an above average number of roles advertised. Half the jobs advertised in East Sussex were in Eastbourne and Wealden.
  • Sports and leisure assistant – 172 unique job postings across 68 employers, £21,700 average salary
  • Micro and SMEs don’t always advertise online so this data is not captured.


HB asked the group to think about how this data snapshot in respect of the task group’s action plan for 2024. Potential actions for discussion:

  • to improve perceptions of the hospitality sector with young people.
  • Should there be a sub sector focus?
  • Should there be training and skills development opportunities?
  • Does the group want data on other sectors?

It was suggested that local celebrity chef, Marcus Wareing, could be approached. Marcus already sponsors chefs through the Compass Group (school’s catering contractor). Other local chefs suggested were Brian Turner and John Williams from The Ritz.

JB has been speaking to a representative from Plumpton College about accessing the college’s training kitchen to teach children about food and cooking. It would be good to have Plumpton College engaged in this conversation. JB to keep the group updated on this.

Action 1: JB to approach Alex Polizzi with regard to getting Marcus Wareing involved.

4) Hospitality sector recruitment and perception issues – spotlight on Hastings

Issues with recruitment and perceptions of the hospitality sector were raised at the last meeting, with the problem being particularly challenging in Hastings. There was an open discussion on understanding the issues, what works well and solutions/approach that could be piloted in Hastings for use across the county, where challenges exist.

DA reported that feedback through the food network had highlighted that many young people’s experience of the hospitality sector can be quite negative. Community chefs have been lost as a resource locally because people do not see it as a valuable sector to work in. The key is engaging with employers but this is difficult due to the nature of the sector and size of businesses (micro/SME). Something could be done with young people and perception.

JB reported that the DWP Hospitality Rocks programme, which was piloted in East Sussex has now been taken up nationally by UK Hospitality. Research shows that children know which profession they do not want to enter by age 9. There is work to be done with parents who can sometimes discourage young people from entering the sector. JB noted McDonald’s was noted as a good example of a good employer for young people, those with additional needs, however the recent high profile incidents will have a knock-on effect for the sector more widely.

Young people need targeted work to adjust perceptions but this will be challenging.

AP has worked with Catherine Clifford to produce a video that highlights career progress and job satisfaction. The video will be included in an e-newsletter which will be sent to the group. There are lots of students studying subjects such as sociology and law but, anecdotally, further down the line employer reference requests are being received for hospitality jobs for which those qualifications are not required. It would be good to get students on a greater spread of courses.

JS agreed that a younger audience needs to be targeted but there is already a large number of young people with SEND available to work in the hospitality sector. If employers changed their mindset, many vacancies could be filled.

DA has heard from young people that the food and nutrition course is theory-heavy so secondary students are not getting much practical experience and losing their love of the subject. Young adults are starting cooking courses without basic skills as these are not being taught in school.

DB reported that hospitality jobs are available in Hastings but employers cannot spare people to attend their events as they are typically micro/SMEs.

JB reported that cooking in schools is returning and farms are setting up projects to teach children about the land and food. However, there is a gap in people who have an awareness of food nutrition.

HB summarised that there appear to be two separate strands of work – career advice in schools and job seekers/those looking for a different career choice. Can we engage employers we’ve already got in the hospitality sector and encourage more?

A lot of larger hotels are already engaged with ESCC through careers hub, but more needs to be done on career pathways. JS suggested having a careers hub hospitality employer champion.

JB suggested that small employers should think differently about what they pay young people. There is competition from retailers and large employers.

HB suggested building on the celebrity chef effect to market/highlight the sector. JB to re-engage with the Royal Academy to see what the potential is. HB also suggested engaging with local level trade associations and sharing what can be offered through this task group.

HB summarised 3 actions to progress:

  • Linking to the Careers Hub and what can be moved forward in terms of CPD with tutors/teachers, other opportunities to engage employers in young people’s encounters
  • Celebrity chef approach – consider most appropriate approach to utilise local celebrity chefs to galvanise interest in the sector
  • On the ground traders’ associations – having conversations directly with associations/chairs of associations to share what support and opportunities are available to support recruitment/retention and perception.


Action 2: JB to engage with the Royal Academy on using the celebrity chef effect to promote the hospitality sector.

Action 3: Progress the 3 actions identified above and feedback at next meeting.

5) Skills East Sussex October meeting update

HB provided an update from the last Skills East Sussex meeting, which now act as a standing item to ensure information and discussion flows in both directions.

  • DWP update was positive – a second successive drop in universal claimant numbers in East Sussex was attributed to the work of task groups and collaborative working across East Sussex.
  • 50+ SWAPs (1-2 weeks job preparation courses for unemployed people with guaranteed interviews), Outreach work and jobs fairs ongoing.
  • Update on success of Transform programme (supports businesses to take on apprentices and access funding) delivery to date, plus intention to identify continuation funding.
  • There was discussion on the withdrawal of BTECs and introduction of T-Levels, impact this may have for learners. 45 days of work placement are required for T-Levels which is a challenge for East Sussex businesses, in part due to the SME/micro nature of the economy. May limit the numbers being able to undertake them. Mapping work is being undertaken by the ESCC team on the gaps between T Levels and BTECs to support lobbying to identify a route to plugging these gaps.
  • AP reported that the BTEC in Hospitality is being defunded next year and won’t have a direct replacement. The Catering & Hospitality T-Level is more focused on catering. Career progression is rapid in the hospitality sector but students may be diverted into other courses if there are not enough businesses to support a 45-day placement.
  • The Southeast Institute of Technology has launched, focussed on Level 4, 5 and higher apprenticeships. This includes some capital grants for updating existing buildings, as well as building new and for resources.

The next Skills East Sussex meeting is on 24 January 2024, an update of this meeting will be provided at the February meeting of this task group.

6) Careers Hub update

JS provided an update from the Careers Hub and shared a presentation, which is included with the minutes.

Employers can get involved in supporting the hub through becoming an Enterprise Adviser, Cornerstone Employer or Industry Champion.

  • Enterprise Advisers work directly with a school to ensure their careers strategy is up to date. 77% of East Sussex schools are matched with an Enterprise Adviser.
  • Cornerstone Employers work strategically with the Careers Hub to make sure schools are being educated correctly. All schools/colleges in East Sussex are engaged with the Careers Hub.
  • Industry Champions are for any employer. There are currently 215 Industry Champions and can be involved in a variety of ways with schools and colleges, including open doors.

There has been an increase in the number of young people taking work placements. In 2022/23, 4,122 pupils from 33 schools had a work placement in East Sussex. There are currently 2,065 employers providing work experience opportunities. If any other employers would like to offer this, they should email the Careers Hub.

There is an iCan careers event for parents/carers at the Kings Centre, Eastbourne, on 28 November. If businesses would like a stall, they should contact JS.

Other events upcoming this year are primary projects, building on Open Doors and matching more Enterprise Advisers with schools.

7) AOB/Date of next meeting

JB met with the Higher Education Association last week. They are producing a video around recruitment, in particular the benefits for colleagues to work in the education sector of hospitality. JB to share with the group when ready.

Invitations for meetings in 2024 will be circulated shortly. It is proposed that the next meeting be held in person. AP volunteered to host at Bexhill College, subject to confirmation.

Next meeting will be 6 February 2024, 2.30pm to 4pm – face-to-face – location to be confirmed.