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With a shared commitment to nurturing the next generation of talent, Ulster University, Northern Regional College (NRC), and Northwest Regional College (NWRC) are encouraging individuals to explore the vast range of rewarding career paths in the hospitality, tourism, and events sectors as Ireland's largest outdoor sporting event, the NorthWest 200, graced the North Coast Triangle circuit at the weekend.

In its 95th year, NW200 has helped put NI on the map by bringing together thousands of spectators and participants travelling from across the globe for a thrilling festival of racing, stunt shows, concerts and fireworks against the natural beauty of the coastline, promising to be an experience to remember.

During the past two decades, these industries have adapted and transformed to become some of the most resilient and successful sectors of the local economy, contributing over £1.1 billion annually and representing approximately one in every 12 jobs across the region. Tourism alone is one of Northern Ireland's most widely distributed sectors, both geographically and socially, with around 70% of job opportunities located outside Belfast.

The development of state-of-the-art visitor attractions such as the Giant’s Causeway centre, the hosting of globally recognised sporting events such as the 148th Open Golf championship at Portrush, and the development of an increasingly diverse and acclaimed food and drink scene has led to a multitude of inclusive and highly skilled jobs for individuals of all ages.

Education plays a crucial role in cultivating the next generation of talent and supporting various routes into these dynamic sectors. Ulster University and Further Education Colleges in the North Coast and North West ensure students receive high quality training and the industry-specific knowledge needed to succeed in their chosen fields by offering a range of study programmes and qualifications at foundation, undergraduate, and postgraduate levels.

From culinary arts, hotel management, event planning, and tourism, the hospitality, tourism, and events sectors offer an abundance of career pathways at entry-level positions to executive roles that allow for upward mobility and career progression.

Professor Ioannis S. Pantelidis, Head of Department of Hospitality Tourism and Events Management at Ulster University Business School (UUBS) said:

“In Northern Ireland, our people are at the heart of the thriving hospitality, tourism, and events sectors here which highlights the crucial need to invest in high-quality education and the nurturing of our future industry leaders for sustaining the industry's vitality. Few other industries can contend with the exciting possibilities that these sectors have on offer. One of the most enticing features of pursuing a career in this field is that several programmes at Ulster University provide an accelerated path to managerial and leadership roles, something that is not commonly found in other sectors. It’s important that everyone has access to the education they need to pursue their aspirations. Collaborating with educational providers across all levels creates seamless pathways and ensures that students receive the necessary learning opportunities and resources to embark on successful career journeys.” 

This year, Ulster University was ranked second across the entire UK by The Guardian University Guide 2024 for its Hospitality, Events Management, and Tourism courses. At Ulster University Coleraine, students and businesses alike have access an exceptional array of top-tier support facilities including the Consumer Insight Lab, the Market Intelligence Lab, and the Food and Consumer Sensory Testing Suite, all aimed at providing knowledge support and assisting skills development.

Dr Catherine O'Mullan, Director of Curriculum and Academic Standards North West Regional College (NWRC), added:

“NWRC is delighted to be part of the collaborative approach with Ulster University and NRC to deliver high quality education and training for the areas of Hospitality and Tourism. The college offers a range of full time and part time provision, including the new Traineeship in Professional Chef as well as a number of part time and full time Higher Education courses. The college also specialises in a range of short academy training courses linked directly to business needs in Barista Skills, Customer Services Skills/Customer Experience, Food Safety, Food Allergens and Professional Cookery to re-skill and upskill staff to ensure pipeline of skilled labour supporting an increasing demand in these areas important to the regional economy.”

Christine Brown, Vice Principal of Teaching and Learning at Northern Regional College (NRC), commented:

"NRC places the needs of the Hospitality and Tourism sector at the heart of its curriculum strategy, and sees strong collaborative partnerships with both NWRC and Ulster University as critical to delivery of a talented workforce across the wide range of career opportunities offered within the sector. That partnership includes development of Higher Education provision with Foundation Degrees offered through Full-time, part-time and Higher Level Apprenticeship study and providing clear progression pathways through to Honours Degree at Ulster University.

“The opening of our new Causeway Campus in Coleraine in September 2024 provides industry standard facilities for future Hospitality, Tourism and Events learners, of all ages and career stages, and an opportunity to raise awareness of the full range of career pathways offered within this vibrant sector. NRC looks forward to further development of training provision through collaboration with NWRC, with Ulster University and critically with employers."

For a wide range of courses available at Ulster University, visit Department of Hospitality Tourism and Events Management - Ulster University