Project Description

Visit Scotland and SDS: Pathways into Tourism

Tourism is an incredibly important sector for Fife, along with the rest of the country. Underpinning its sustainable success is maintaining and strengthening the workforce with young talent. In order to do this, it is evident that the key is establishing a greater connectivity between schools, colleges, universities and employers.

We sat down with DYW Board Member and Senior Tourism Insight Manager at Visit Scotland, Chris Greenwood, and Lawrence Durden, Tourism Industry Manager at Skills Development Scotland, to discuss careers for young people in the tourism sector and why this is important for the future of Fife.

Chris Greenwood, DYW Board Member and Senior Tourism Insight Manager at Visit Scotland

Q. Why is it important to create pathways for young people into the tourism sector?

A: “Tourism is phenomenally important to Scotland. Tourism spend contributes over £10 billion a year to our country; it represents 9% of the overall Scottish economy. It is vital to the economic performance of communities across the length and breadth of Scotland.

As a sector, tourism employs more than 200,000 people, and accounts for more than 8% of employment in Scotland, with one in nine people working in tourism. As a vital sector within our economy, it is so important to make sure it has the workforce it needs.

We have an issue here, however. Even pre-COVID-19, the tourism sector had too many vacancies and skill gaps for it to sustain itself completely. There is often a real shortage of staff in some critical job types. Creating pathways for young people as a strategy to rectify this is of National importance.

Maintaining and strengthening the workforce with young talent is essential not just for tourism businesses, but for the economy in general. It is also important to create pathways because tourism offers fantastic and diverse career opportunities. The variety within the sector is huge, with something for every interest and level of ambition.

From very small businesses, all the way through to large international corporates with loads of opportunities to start your own success story at a relatively young age – there really is something to suit everyone. Although they are currently affected by Covid-19, there are incredible events like the Ryder Cup or there are distilleries, hotels and extreme outdoor activity parks, to name a few. The sector is so diverse in Scotland and we should be shouting that from the rooftops for our young people.

Employers visiting schools is vital for raising interest, as it is the main tool for addressing established perceptions that working in tourism is limited to part time, low paid work with unsociable hours. By engaging directly with DYW, businesses can engage young people directly through schools and colleges, to prove to young people that tourism is a great deal more than just waiting tables.

With tourism, you can get involved in many different industries and stay local or take your experience and go global to see the world. It is a career destination with a lot of diverse and interesting opportunities, and we should make it easily accessible to our young people, so they can enjoy them.”

Lawrence Durden, Tourism Industry Manager at Skills Development Scotland (SDS)

Q. How can we create successful pathways for young people into the tourism sector?

A: “The key to successful pathways for young people in any sector is establishing a greater connectivity between schools, colleges, universities and employers.

Before we look at how we can get young people into the tourism sector, we need to ensure our young talent is meeting the needs of the industry. This can only be driven from the top down and the industry, therefore, needs to link with educational institutions to direct and contribute to skills development.

For example, we currently need improvements in relation to management and leadership provision to address a skills gap. Tourism businesses can help to identify gaps like this, but they can also contribute to courses and development opportunities for young people that address them.

In addition, before we start planning how to encourage them into a career in tourism, we also need to ensure our young talent is interested and understand the breadth of opportunity and types of experience available in the sector. Stronger connections between education and industry can not only help develop the right people, it can increase delivery of activity to raise the attractiveness of the sector.

We need to make young people aware of all the benefits of working in tourism. Linking employers with education creates an opportunity for first-hand accounts of the many great opportunities this sector has to offer. In our experience, industry insight is one of the most effective sales tools for tourism.

In terms of getting young people their first start in the sector, there is no formal or linear map as there are a range of diverse routes into a range of interesting tourism careers. However, the main ways into tourism for young people are through apprenticeships, college courses and university courses.

The development and utilisation of Foundation Apprenticeships, Modern Apprenticeship and Graduate Apprenticeship programmes is particularly key in the sector. There are a range of Modern Apprenticeship frameworks available covering hospitality and travel services, and Graduate Apprenticeships can support people into management roles within the sector.

Information on apprenticeships can be found at Apprenticeships | Work, Learn & Earn  This is where links between employers and schools rise to the top of the list of important factors for successful pathways.”