February 04, 2011
People 1st is urging hospitality, leisure and travel businesses to put apprenticeships at the heart of their organisation’s strategy to secure an on-going supply of qualified staff for their own long-term success and that of the industry.
As the sector grows, it faces critical skills challenges – each year, the pool of young people entering the workplace decreases by 60,000 and options such as recruiting from abroad are now becoming less viable. Over the next six years, more people will be needed to fill over one million vacancies.
Addressing over 200 delegates at the House of Commons yesterday, People 1st’s chairman, David Fairhurst, stressed that: “By 2017, the sector will have grown into one which employs 2.4 million people, so we’ll need to continue to grow our people and, as a means of growing our people, apprenticeships will continue to perform an important role in maintaining the highest standards of training and development.”
“Echoing what David Fairhurst was saying about the visitor economy, it plays a critical part for driving the UK’s economy and the Prime Minister understands this,” said John Penrose, Minister for Tourism. “It’s one of the fastest growing, dynamic and fun sectors and has a great future ahead. But we need to create and develop a dynamic thrusting sector, and the way to do this is through greater skills. Better skills drive economic growth leading to a higher quality experience for customers.”
“Apprenticeships are the lifeblood of our dynamic, innovative and fast-growing sector and People 1st, working closely with sector employers, is committed to raising the number of apprenticeships further to tackle the sector’s skills needs and gaps,” said People 1st’s director of policy and research, Martin-Christian Kent. “22,000 apprentices start their training in our sector each year and we aim to increase this to 30,000 by 2020, whilst boosting completion rates to 80%.”
Many board directors and senior managers from the industry have used an apprenticeship as a cornerstone to developing their career, rising through the ranks to the top. Household names such as Compass Group, TUI UK & Ireland, Barcelo Hotels, Whitbread, Punch Taverns, McDonald’s Restaurants, Thomas Cook and JD Wetherspoon, have been offering apprenticeships for years, successfully reaping the rewards.
Des Lawson, HR director at Barcelo Hotels, acknowledges that apprenticeships have been fundamental to their business, helping them to retain people as well as offering individuals career development and progression. “We identified skills gaps in our business that we knew we had to fill and the answer for us was to train our own people. Apprenticeships were a natural way of doing this. Nowadays, the apprenticeship framework is far more flexible and employer-friendly – you can add onto them, tailor them and make sure they fit the business needs as well as those of the individual going through the qualification. My advice to other employers is to commit to apprenticeships – the benefits far outweigh the costs and generally we see direct returns within 12 months.”
TUI UK & Ireland offers apprenticeships to attract people to the business and qualify them to a national standard. “We generally find that people on the programme are fully capable of making a real contribution to our organisational objectives within three to six months whilst travel advisors who complete the advanced apprenticeship are, on average, far more profitable in their sales than those who have not done an apprenticeship or undertaken an equivalent length of service and development,” said Andy Smyth, accredited programmes manager at TUI UK & Ireland.
“My advice to all employers is that apprenticeship programmes really do add to the future of your business. Costs are short term, benefits are long term. Benefits deriving from an apprenticeship really go beyond a monetary value and organisations should look at how those energetic and highly trained people can add value to their organisation as a whole,” Andy added.
The Parliamentary reception was the launchpad for the sector’s new apprenticeship strategy as well as the unveiling of additional resources on apprenticeships on the sector’s newly revamped careers and jobs website. Click here for our special apprenticeship website, part of UKSP on www.uksp.co.uk/apprentice
The apprenticeship strategy encompasses six key objectives:
- Ensure that apprentices are effectively prepared to start an apprenticeship
- Raise awareness of the Asian and Oriental specialist chef routes within the Professional Chef apprenticeship to support employers with responding to changes in migration policy
- Ensure that apprenticeships are robust and reflect the needs of the sector
- Reduce unnecessary barriers to employers offering apprenticeships and apprentices completing them
- Help retain apprentices on apprenticeship programmes
- Raise the demand for higher level apprenticeships
The BHA have identified employment and skills development as a key policy area in 2011 and will be supporting People 1st in persuading government departments to trust business to do the job of developing people.
Read more about creating jobs in Britain in the BHA’s Hospitality Economy Proposition.