London Mayor Boris Johnson has pledged his support for the hospitality industry by joining with the British Hospitality Association (BHA) to reveal plans to create 7,000 new apprenticeship positions in the catering industry.

The Mayor was at the Premier Inn in Leicester Square this week where he was joined by the BHA, which has pledged to create 7,000 new apprenticeships in the capital by the end of 2016.

To support the pledge Johnson will be running a campaign to promote apprenticeships across the city this year.

Johnson said: “Thanks to London’s international appeal as a top tourist destination, hospitality is one of the city’s boom industries and it is superb to have the support of the BHA in supporting 7,000 more young Londoners into a great career and helping to meet the demand for a skilled and dedicated workforce in this field.

“Apprenticeships not only help young people get a foot on the career ladder, they boost businesses with an eager, committed workforce – I urge all London’s firms to grasp the opportunity and take on an apprentice.”

Tourism now contributes £36bn to the capital each year and employs over 700,000 people, and this is expected to continue to increase. The hospitality industry is forecast to grow by over 16% by 2020, which will mean a huge demand for a skilled and loyal workforce that the pledge by the British Hospitality Association will come some way to meeting.

Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the BHA, said:  “As well as investing in young Londoners, the hospitality and tourism industry is sowing the seeds for its own future by nurturing young talent and helping to stimulate economic growth.  By working collectively to tackle youth unemployment in London and across the UK, the Big Hospitality Conversation has generated quality work experience, apprenticeships and jobs for 16-24 year olds.

“Support from our Mayor will be instrumental in achieving our ambitions to create 7,000 apprenticeships for 16-24 year olds by the end of 2016 and showcasing the exciting, meaningful and rewarding careers can be built in the hospitality industry.”