This week saw the launch of a new government Tourism Strategy for the next 10 years - What does it mean for those thinking of a career in the sector?
The ‘People’ aspect of the strategy, sets out policy objectives that aim to strengthen the capacity of people working in the tourism sector to provide the highest quality experience to visitors, and to compete effectively for business in the international tourism marketplace.
The ability of the tourism sector to grow is closely linked to the range of skills among those employed in the sector. With regard to the skills required to meet the future challenges of the tourism sector, it is timely that a significant realignment of skills and training structures in Ireland is currently underway.
It is important that the trades associated with the tourism industry are incorporated fully into these new structural arrangements. Fáilte Ireland (and one of its predecessor bodies, CERT) previously provided training in catering and tourism skills. Reflecting changed industry needs, Fáilte Ireland now supports the Institutes of Technology in the design and delivery of tourism sector training courses.
Fáilte Ireland also supports a number of ‘Earn and Learn’ programmes, which enable individuals to go to college part time to receive a fully recognised qualification while receiving valuable paid work experience in a ‘best practice’ establishment in the tourism industry.
At an overall level, SOLAS is now responsible for funding, planning and co-ordinating a wide range of training and further education programmes and has a mandate to ensure the provision of 21st century highquality programmes to jobseekers and other learners. As the Education and Training Boards (ETBs) take over the management of training delivery, SOLAS will focus on planning, funding and implementing a new, integrated further education and training service.
In looking to the future of the tourism sector, it will be necessary to balance direct enterprise support, entry level training and advanced/professional training.
SOLAS, employers, further and higher education providers, particularly the Education and Training Boards, and Fáilte Ireland will all have complementary roles to play in this new approach.
Significant progress has already been made on implementing the new structures for tourism related training, and in fact tourism can be a lead sector in the new skills and apprenticeship model.
SOLAS has the networks, research and training centres through the existing Education and Training Boards and education network. Given that vocational training falls under the remit of SOLAS, the Government will not duplicate this infrastructure solely for the tourism industry. Suitable training programmes will be managed at a local level by the ETBs in consultation with local tourism employers and SOLAS, with certification in line with the National Framework for Qualifications (NFQ). Local provision will assist in ensuring that the training matches the demands of the industry in each region.
SKILLS TO UNDERPIN FUTURE GROWTH
The Expert Group of Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) is planning to commence a detailed assessment of the workforce skills and competency requirements for the hospitality sector in Ireland up to 2020. The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and Fáilte Ireland will contribute actively to this assessment.
The broader tourism sector requires a wide range of skills including management capability, IT, and design. These skills are required across all tourism sub-sectors, including marketing, transport, product development and delivery. The EGFSN report titled ‘Key Skills for Enterprise to Trade Internationally’, made a number of recommendations relating to the subjects of applied training programmes that should be developed for tourism. Fáilte Ireland will assist the EGFSN to liaise with key industry groups with the aim of predicting the skills needed for both hospitality and tourism, and identifying emerging needs for tourism education.
Fáilte Ireland will also assist SOLAS in supporting the development of further education and training in the sector and will engage with SOLAS and the industry to support the successful establishment and implementation of any new tourism apprenticeship that might emerge from the work of the Apprenticeship Council, given the positive effect of training on the quality of the tourism product. The tourism industry itself must also work to maximise the attractiveness of the sector as a career choice, for example by emphasising the opportunities for career progression that exist within the area.
ENCOURAGING CAREERS IN TOURISM
In addition to providing suitable training structures for tourism, there will also be action to encourage students to consider a career in the tourism sector.
DTTAS and Fáilte Ireland will engage with the Department of Education and Skills to explore how tourism can gain an enhanced profile in second-level education. In particular, second level schools will be encouraged to implement the tourism modules that are already available for Transition Year. At present, there are two tourism programmes developed specifically for Transition Year - “The Tourism Awareness Programme” and “Tourism Studies – the Irish Experience”. Both aim to promote the importance of tourism as an economic activity by developing an awareness among students of the Irish tourism product both locally and nationally, as well as an awareness of the careers and employment opportunities within the tourism industry.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE SKILLS IN THE TOURISM SECTOR
Separately, Ireland has not ranked strongly in terms of the percentage of the working population that can speak an overseas language with a reasonable level of fluency. While foreign languages are of obvious importance in terms of everyday contact between tourism industry staff and visitors, equally important is the capability of tourism industry personnel to do business with buyers in overseas markets where English is not the first language. The Department of Education and Skills is currently preparing a Foreign Languages in Education Strategy, which will provide a framework for the future development of Ireland’s overall level of proficiency in foreign languages.
Policy proposals include:
- State support for training and career development in the tourism sector designed to maximise the ability of the industry to meet the needs of future visitors and to enable those employed in the tourism sector to achieve their potential.
- Fáilte Ireland to have a key role in influencing the design of training and skills development programmes for the tourism industry, working closely with SOLAS
- Assessment of the needs of the hospitality sector
- Increase capacity of the tourism industry to effectively communicate with trade customers in non-English speaking markets
- Expand cultural awareness in respect of visitors from developing markets.
- Encourage tourism education options at second level.
Source: Government Tourism Strategy
The CareersPortal Team