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University College Birmingham and NEC launch lifeline for food and hospitality workers

A training hub jam-packed with vital support for food and hospitality professionals struggling due to the pandemic is being launched by University College Birmingham in partnership with the NEC Group. The Food and Hospitality Hub @UCB will give those in one of the hardest hit industries the chance to gain new practical and business skills, tapping into the expertise of the University’s teaching staff, plus free access to a range of resources already used by students. Through the new hub, workers will be able to access everything from food safety and allergens training, CV, skills assessment and profiling guidance and health and wellbeing advice through to signposting to other university services such as the entrepreneur-focused Enterprise Hive and BSEEN, Birmingham Skills for Enterprise and Employability Network. The new hub builds on the University signing up to support the recovery of the hospitality sector for the Coventry City of Culture celebrations in May, delivering bespoke, ‘gold standard’ online training to around 500 staff across the city and the region, funded by West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA). Kali Davidson, head of the University’s Birmingham College of Food, said: “The global pandemic has had a devastating impact upon the food and hospitality sector within the region, a sector which is a significant part of the West Midlands economy and contributes to the vibrant and diverse culture within the city of Birmingham. “With recent reports indicating that over 20,000 small businesses may be lost in the West Midlands as a result of the pandemic, the decimated hospitality sector representing a large part of this, we felt we could provide a tangible support system for those who have lost their jobs or need to develop new skills. “Working closely with employers such as the NEC Group, who are looking for support for frontline workers, and the West Midlands Federation of Small Businesses, we will be able to support the recovery and regeneration of the sector moving forward.” Lewis Walker, head of higher education at Birmingham College of Food, said they looked forward to working with more employers to identify the needs of the sector and how the hub could respond. “We are really proud to be at the heart of the West Midlands hospitality sector and be able to support local professionals, providing a range of training, resources and guidance, and encourage the regeneration of this exciting, diverse and crucially important industry within our city. “It will also give our students opportunities to work with the sectors they are training to be employed in and get involved with the development of the hub itself.” Birmingham College of Food at the University is well-placed to deliver a training hub of this scale due to its wide-ranging learning and teaching resources and sheer expertise of lecturers, many of whom will form the hub’s working group. Its renowned food and hospitality undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, college courses and apprenticeships include those with a focus on professional cookery, culinary arts management, sustainable gastronomy, bakery and patisserie technology and food and beverage service. Alumni include Brad Carter, owner of Michelin-starred Carters of Moseley, MasterChef: The Professionals finalists, Leo Kattou, Monty Stonehewer and Claire Hutchings, European street food champion Lee Desanges, Indian celebrity chef Garima Poddar, Becca Boast, senior cookery tutor at The Raymond Blanc Cookery School, and creators of hit YouTube cookery channel SORTEDfood, Ben Ebbrell and James Currie. While the new hub will initially be run virtually through an open access portal, there are plans to run face-to-face sessions at the University’s industry-standard kitchens and in workplaces in the region. To find out more about how the Food and Hospitality Hub @UCB could help you or your business or organisation, please get in touch by emailing Kali at or Lewis at

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