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Leading hospitality skills figure to headline Recruitment & Skills Summit in Coventry

21 November 2022
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One of the leading figures in skills and training in the hospitality sector is heading to Coventry in December to be part of the Recruitment & Skills Summit.

Sandra Kelly, who was hired as skills director by UKHospitality earlier this year to lead on its Workforce Strategy, will be one of the panellists at the Recruitment & Skills Summit, which will be held at the Belgrade Theatre on December 1.

The event, organised by the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, with Coventry City Council and Destination Coventry, will aim to help everything from hotels, restaurants and event venues through to suppliers in the sector with the skills and recruitment crisis.

The industry in the city is crying out for more people to join after so many left during the Covid-19 crisis and it is proving to be a serious barrier to growth.

Other speakers will include Ben Prior, who runs the Ballroom Climbing Wall; Fleur Sexton, of PET-Xi and Metropolis; Dal Dhillon, of Dhillon’s Brewery and the Sky Blue Tavern; and Lisa Redding, from the Eden Hotel Collection.

A representative from the West Midlands Combined Authority will also be on the panel and further speakers will be announced shortly.

Throughout November, the Chamber is taking soundings from businesses in the sector to find out the issues they are facing and will offer one-to-one help and signposting to the relevant support available. It is also keen for businesses in the sector to come forward, get involved, and air their views.

That work will be led by business consultant Chris Hartley, who has been working with businesses in the sector on overcoming the Covid crisis in recent months.

He will also run an online workshop to give businesses the chance to speak to experts and offer support.

The support programme is being delivered by Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce through the Coventry Creative Growth & Cultural Tourism Recovery Programme, which is funded by the UK Government’s Community Renewal Fund, through the West Midlands Combined Authority.

Corin Crane, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “We are thrilled to be announce that Sandra Kelly will be one of the key panellists at our summit on December 1. She is an expert in the field of recruitment and skills in the hospitality sector and will offer businesses a real insight into the issues, the support available and some of the solutions.

“We also have some great people from within the industry in the city and wider region who will be contributing to the discussion and debate.

“We are working with Destination Coventry and Coventry City Council to deliver this event as part of a wider package of help for businesses who we know are being held back from growth by this incredibly complex issue.”

Paul Jones, managing director of Destination Coventry, said: “The recruitment crisis is one the biggest threats to tourism and hospitality, so it is fantastic to be able to welcome Sandra Kelly, one of the sector’s top experts in recruitment and skills, to the summit in December.

“We are continuing to speak regularly with businesses across the sector to ensure we have a full understanding of the recruitment challenges they are facing, and we hope that delegates at the summit will come away with new insights on how their business can overcome this crisis.”

Cllr Jim O’Boyle, cabinet member for jobs, regeneration and climate change said, “Tourism is a really important and growing sector and its one that contributes to the success of our city.

“I am delighted that local businesses have the chance to attend this summit to find out more about how they can recruit, train and retain the best people and of course to share ideas with each other.

“There is no doubt that it has been a challenging time for the sector – that’s why events and support like this are so important.”

Tourism, leisure, hospitality, or events businesses based in Coventry interested in hearing practical advice and top tips on recruitment and retention from industry experts should look to attend the event on December 1.

Attendees will hear from businesses which have trialled new ways of recruiting, and there will be also opportunities to network, share recruitment successes and challenges with fellow business owners.

For more information on the breakfast event, the support available and how hospitality businesses can get involved, go to

Peter Davison is deputy editor of The Business Magazine. He has spent his life in journalism – doing work experience in newsrooms in and around Bristol while still at school, and landing his first job on a local newspaper aged 19. By 28 he was the youngest newspaper editor in the country.

An early advocate of online news, he spent the first years of the 2000s telling his bosses that the internet posed both the biggest opportunity and greatest threat to the newspaper industry and the art of journalism. He was right on both counts.

Since 2006 he has enjoyed a career as a freelance journalist. He lives in rural Wiltshire with one wife, two children, and three cats.

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