We need to invest in young people if we want to keep Birmingham booming

Opus Restaurants

Listen, learn and invest: that’s what we business owners should be doing with young people. Workers just embarking on their careers are crucial to any industry - their enthusiasm, fresh perspectives and knowledge on upcoming trends are invaluable - and yet how many businesses, especially in the hospitality sector, give these young people an opportunity to work at the entry stage. What a fantastic asset they could be if we just spend a little time inspiring and developing them now.  

Like many people, I wasn’t too shocked when I heard news from CBI* last month that 69% of employers are concerned with the skills gap, which was up from 55% last year. That’s why, here at Opus, we’re trying to do our bit in the hospitality sector by introducing our first-ever scholarship programme.

We’ve joined forces with University College Birmingham (UCB) to tailor make a programme that will develop hospitality students’ work skills. We’ll be offering undergraduates the opportunity to work across all three of our venues - Opus at Cornwall Street, Cafe Opus at Ikon and Bar Opus at One Snowhill - as well as in all areas of our business, including front of house, kitchen and corporate bookings.

By allowing these students to gain real, paid work experience, we know that they will be enhancing their academic knowledge by applying it to practical, working-life situations. And this is what’s crucial - having young people that not only have the grades but also the skills derived from on the job training. Communication, problem solving and being a team player are all attractive skills to an employer but they are not something that can be taught in the classroom. It is only when someone has been given the entry opportunity to work in a business, that they can really start harnessing and developing these kinds of much-needed skills.

And scholarships aren’t just beneficial to students. They can be incredibly advantageous to employers too. They are a fantastic way to meet upcoming talent and nurture them in becoming an instrumental member of the team. They are a chance to inspire the next generation - getting them excited for their career - and utilising that enthusiasm and positivity to create a happy and thriving workplace.

Businesses in Birmingham are booming at the moment. Let’s maintain that momentum by investing in our young people, by giving them entry opportunities and the skills needed to keep our city’s businesses flourishing.

For more information on Opus’ scholarship programme, visit our website