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Travel employers' support for apprenticeships

January and February are normally among the busiest times of year for the UK’s tour operators and travel agents. This year, however, the travel sector is continuing to grapple with the debilitating impact of the Covid pandemic and ongoing uncertainty about the future. Travel will eventually bounce back, but the question is, how long will that take?  

If there’s some good news, it’s that 2021 looks like being a boom year for domestic tourism. With staycations replacing international travel, this summer will be a year like no other. And the same is true of the 14th edition of National Apprenticeship Week taking place from 8 to 14 February, where digital and virtual events will celebrate the way that employers and providers have stepped up to combat the challenges of these unprecedented times.

With almost 1,500 apprentices across the travel sector, National Apprenticeship Week is an opportunity for employers and training providers to share how they train and retain apprentices and how they’re achieving a return on their apprenticeship investments. And it’s also a springboard to help us look ahead at how apprenticeships can futureproof the workforce and boost careers as well as helping individuals to thrive by gaining valuable workplace skills and knowledge.

“Apprenticeships give great return on investment because they not only upskill the individual but deliver poignant knowledge into the business that can then be shared with others.” said Julia Assock, Head of People Development at dnata. “An additional measure is one of exposure as an apprenticeship encourages learners to step outside their comfort zone and connect with people and departments they ordinarily may not have.”

While it’s unclear how long the sector will be impacted by Covid-19, many employers across the travel sector have confirmed their firm intention to support apprenticeships moving forwards.

Mel Phaure, Director at Blue Cube Travel commented: “Unfortunately recruitment of new apprentices have been put on hold due to the pandemic but as things slowly begin to improve we will still be looking to recruit apprentices but we will be looking even more closely to get the best that is out there. People with real ambition and drive will be key.”

Successful apprentices have the ready-made skills and knowledge of not only the job role itself, but also the organisation, its culture and goals. They bring with them enthusiasm and a great attitude for learning and development which has a positive influence on existing employees.

“We have achieved a comparably longer tenure with our qualified apprentices than with other new recruits.” said Angela Williams, VP People & Culture at BCD Travel. “As our apprentices have been trained our way, we see minimal errors such as write-offs and they consistently achieve or exceed our productivity benchmarks.”

Through the Travel Skills & Quality Board, employers have worked hard over recent years to develop the sector’s apprenticeship standards and ensure they are fit for purpose. This employer-led approach has given the sector confidence in the content and delivery of apprenticeships and provided a valuable talent pipeline. Moving forward, it will also prove vital in ensuring that employers can define effective post-pandemic progression routes and align workplace skills and vocational education activities.

People 1st International has also been helping to address the future talent pipeline and improve the quality of technical education by leading an industry response back to the Department for Education on the current consultations into post-16 level 2 & 3 qualifications. This represents a critical opportunity to correct the pathways into the travel industry and is needed now more than ever.

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