The government’s Tourism Sector Deal is music to the ears of those of us already engaged in educating those who will lead this hugely important area of the national economy in years to come, writes Brendan Moffett, Director of the University of Derby’s Centre for Contemporary Hospitality and Tourism.
Of particular importance to us at the University of Derby is the government’s pledge to “ensure that our education system supports the industry’s needs” and the drive to “ensure that visitors to the UK are served by a highly knowledgeable and skilled workforce.”
We welcome the commitment to engage with the industry during the government’s Post-16 Qualifications review “to ensure the sector has an opportunity to feed into future policy development.”
Appropriately, as a specialist training provider for culinary arts, there is much we can already feed into that process.
Skills drive helping to raise productivity
The University of Derby is heavily committed to the sector with the Centre for Contemporary Hospitality and Tourism located at the edge of the Peak District, we deliver degree and post-graduate level programmes which are tailor-made for the sector. Many of our students have gone on to work for some biggest names in the tourism and hospitality business.
The crucial point about educating young people in particular to the level that we do at the University is not only to equip them with the skills they need, but to generate a an uplift on productivity across the sector.
The level of knowledge needed to work and manage in this fiercely competitive market is significant. These are no longer the low-value jobs that have been unfairly associated with tourism and hospitality in the past. In many cases, these are graduate-level professions.
Apprenticeships and partnerships are key
The government has also committed itself in the Sector Deal to create 30,000 apprenticeships and bringing on stream a mentoring scheme which will help develop the careers of 10,000 employees.
Degree apprenticeships are an increasingly important route into many industries, and tourism and hospitality is no different in that respect. The flexibility and security of a paid job while obtaining your degree is a clear incentive to many young people as they set out on their route to the world of work.
Fostering excellent partnerships with hotel chains, resorts and restaurants, not just throughout our region, but across the UK – and even overseas – is hugely important to the provision of education and training.
It is not enough just to provide the training in the confines of our University’s own facilities – excellent though they are. The importance of work placements for our students cannot be overstated. It prepares them for the cut and thrust of a long and successful career in an industry that demands 100 per cent commitment and boundless energy from its staff to create superb experiences for the customer.
Helping employers retain skilled staff
Upskilling, and providing development opportunities by obtaining higher level qualifications, is vital to staff retention in the sector. If operators want to retain that edge over their competitors then they must ensure that their management processes and the levels of service they provide is first class.
It is the excitement of those possibilities, forged with the support of government and this new deal, and the opportunity to acquire degree-level training and qualifications, which should ‘fire up’ – to borrow a phrase from the deal’s proposals – young people’s enthusiasm and enable them to see that there is a career in tourism and hospitality not just a job.
It should also re-energise those great people already working in the sector who want to progress and to become leaders in their field.