Expert View: Upskilling our Tourism Workforce
The University of Cumbria is among those leading the charge to develop more flexible, dynamic and positive approaches to upskilling the tourism industry, boosting productivity and finding innovative ways to respond to continuing uncertainty.
Dr Angela Anthonisz is Principal Lecturer in Tourism Management at the University. She says, “Workforce challenges are a huge issue for the tourism sector, exacerbated by concerns around potential Post-Brexit restrictions on skilled workers from the EU, as well as outdated perceptions of careers in the tourism and hospitality industry.
“Too often seen as a transient workforce with little career progression, there still isn’t enough recognition that a job in tourism is not just about menial tasks. It can evolve into a highly paid and exciting career with international opportunities, whether that’s within hospitality or events management, health and wellbeing, visitor attractions, retail and so on.
“In order to broaden the industry’s appeal and help increase the available pool of labour, drive up skills and raise aspirations longer-term, we have worked in conjunction with organisations like Cumbria Tourism to develop a range of courses which meet the practical needs of employers, employees and the sector as a whole”.
Tourism businesses now have greater access than ever to flexible on-the-job learning to help upskill employees, including apprenticeships to degree standard alongside shorter, more specialised courses.
Angela says, “We really encourage businesses to consider integrated workplace training to enhance people’s skills and qualifications, and ultimately, to help retain staff and improve productivity. Apprenticeships are a great way to introduce new talent into an organisation and retain valued, experienced and trusted team members for at least three years. They are also cost-effective, with 95% of the course fee provided by Government and 5% supported by employer”.
The University’s Postgraduate courses and PhD studies are also informed by national and local industry research and data and was critical in designing the University’s new high level qualifications.
Angela adds, “The University will launch the UK’s first postgraduate MBA in Tourism Management in 2020 to help graduates work towards the highest-level jobs the sector can offer. We believe the MBA will have international appeal, with interest not only from Europe, but also India, China and the Middle East”.