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More than 200 school pupils from five secondary schools across Greater Belfast swapped the classroom for an interactive day exploring educational and career opportunities in hospitality and culinary arts management with Ulster University and Titanic Belfast.

The one-day event, which took place at Titanic Belfast, was run as part of the Antonio Carluccio Outreach Programme, a partnership between Ulster University, the Antonio Carluccio Foundation and Oxford Cultural Collective which aims to highlight the many exciting career opportunities available in the hospitality sector, particularly among those who may not be considering attending university.

Year 11 and Year 12 pupils explored what is takes to be effective leaders in the contemporary hospitality industry, and how a university education provides a strong platform for career success. Across three interactive sessions, involving a range of senior figures from industry, they considered the role of modern hospitality businesses in Belfast and beyond – in shaping our collective food culture, delivering economic and cultural regeneration and enhancing our international reputation through digital communication.

Participating schools included Belfast Boys’ Model School, Belfast Model School for Girls, Blessed Trinity College, Hazelwood Integrated College and Mercy College.

Recently ranked in the Guardian as number 2 in the UK for degrees in hospitality, Ulster University is investing heavily in this flagship area of educational provision.

Dr Laura Wells, Marketing Lecturer and Coordinator of the Antonio Carluccio Outreach Programme believes there has never been a better time to study hospitality and culinary arts management:

“Our industry provides amazing opportunities for talented, creative graduates, who have the potential to pursue management, leadership and entrepreneurial careers. Our Antonio Carluccio Outreach Programme enables us to connect directly with pupils who could thrive on our degree programmes, and as graduates working in hospitality organisations, but who may not be familiar with what is on offer. The Antonio Carluccio Outreach Programme has been a tremendous success, enabling us to inspire young people to consider a career in this sector and break down perceived barriers to participation in higher education.”

Judith Owens MBE, Chief Executive of Titanic Belfast commented:

“We were delighted to welcome so many young people to explore the exciting career opportunities that await them should they choose to work in the hospitality or tourism industry.

As one of the city’s most iconic event venues and hospitality employers, we recognise how important it is to motivate and inspire these future leaders to help attract and develop emerging talent in the sector. We will continue to work with our industry partners to showcase the diversity of roles, flexibility and progression potential for those who are interested in embarking on a fulfilling career within hospitality in Northern Ireland.”

Project partner and funder, the Antonio Carluccio Foundation, was formed to honour the legacy of the much-loved and respected Italian chef and food writer, who was known for encouraging and supporting young people who were building their careers in hospitality.

The Antonio Carluccio Outreach Programme forms part of Ulster University’s ambitious widening access and participation agenda and since launching in 2021, the programme has engaged nearly 400 school pupils in face-to-face sessions, with hundreds more participating online.