• Eri-ife Williams
How would a tourism sector deal boost skills and productivity in GM?

This week, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Jeremy Wright called upon the tourism industry to do what it can to promote the sector throughout the year and increase clear career paths.

The call came as Government starts negotiating an Industrial Strategy sector deal that maximises the potential of one of the UK’s most successful exports.

The visitor economy across Greater Manchester alone is worth £8.2billion and supports almost 100,000 jobs, accounting for 9% of the economy. The sector is broad, encompassing hotels, restaurants, bars, conference and exhibition centres, galleries and museums, cultural and tourist attractions, entertainment activities, and sports venues.

Over the next 5 years, the tourism sector across Greater Manchester is set for a radical step change, powered by major investment in new attractions, accommodation and visitor facilities. This unprecedented growth in supply will bring with it the need to increase visitor numbers and grow demand at an exceptional rate. It will also provide significant new employment opportunities which will require a major increase in staff recruitment and retention.

One of the key themes for a tourism sector deal will be how we can change perceptions of tourism and hospitality so that it’s seen as a career for life, and how we can support that through workforce development. This is certainly something that we’re already identified here in GM and we’re actively exploring this at the Growth Company.

At the annual GM Tourism Conference in October we launched the concept of a ‘talent hub’ which is taking a three-pronged approach to addressing the challenge of recruitment, retention and the growing skills gap within the sector.

It’s an approach that maximises expertise from across the Growth Company family, and which enables us to provide a comprehensive support offer to the tourism industry in Greater Manchester.

We’ve drawn on the extensive networks and experience of destination marketing agency, Marketing Manchester, and worked with our ethical recruitment agency Aspire to look at how we can support temporary staffing and talent attraction. We’ve also engaged our education and skills team who have a strong track record in delivering pre-recruitment training, apprenticeships and working with employers to understand and use their levy contributions to best effect.

Initiatives like our work placement programme, which provides 12-week work experience opportunities to young people looking to kick-start their career, is supporting talent attraction. Through our wider employment services we’re working closely with local referral agencies to identify and give people the personalised support they need to get back into work and increased opportunities within the tourism sector are providing some excellent job opportunities.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve spoken with employers and partners across the region to build the proposition and have already developed a pre-recruitment package to ensure employers have the appropriately skilled talent pool they need. We’ve also been working with them to look at ways to upskill their existing workforce in sectors such a HR and customer service.

Early in the New Year, we’ll be launching our tourism ‘Talent Hub’ for Greater Manchester that will wrap this support up into one clear package to industry. We’ll be keeping a watchful eye on how the tourism sector deal progresses and the ways in which we can further develop the support we offer to boost skills and productivity across the region and beyond.