Comment: Inspiring the next generation is more important than ever

Ian Dockreay, chief executive of Equator Global and its subsidiary Travel Uni, says the sector must consider how to engage young people after travel and tourism was axed from the national curriculum

In a surprising and concerning move, the UK government has proposed removing travel and tourism from the national curriculum, a decision that will have far-reaching consequences on the travel sector.

It is crucial to foster an early interest in travel-related job opportunities as they are abundant, diverse and provide excellent career progression.

Following the pandemic, tourism and hospitality activity has bounced back rapidly and remains a very significant contributor to the UK’s economy. However there is still some way to go to get back to meeting the employment levels required by the industry, so it has never been more important to inspire and engage young people about tourism as an attractive career choice. This is when we need government support the most.

Meanwhile, the global picture is very different with governments throughout the world recognising the importance of the travel and tourism industry and investing in the provision of education and training to meet future needs. In many cases, tourism is the bedrock of local economies, particularly in island communities and emerging markets. In others, such as the Gulf States, tourism is seen as a way to diversify their economies away from the dependence on fossil fuels.

There is one constant theme, the creation of jobs for the future of their young and growing populations. No other service sector can provide such abundant employment opportunities.

In lieu of the UK government withdrawing tourism education support the industry and alternative educational institutions are having to make significant contributions to fill the skills gap, although the City & Guilds Institute’s withdrawal from tourism studies is a further blow to the provision of courses available in the future. Furthermore, private businesses training budgets for new entrants are stretched in this area. The government’s timing couldn’t be worse.

With all these challenges in mind, we need to consider how we will deliver more courses and training on an even larger and cost effective scale. With tourism being removed from traditional learning paths in schools and colleges now, more than ever, we must continue to harness the power of technology to help provide a brighter future for the industry.

In this digital age, in a world where young people live and work largely online, we can put e-Learning in the palm of their hands and engage with them virtually. Technology has revolutionised the way young people access education. With the advent of interactive tools, mobile apps, virtual classrooms, educational games and multimedia content, learning has become more accessible, diverse and engaging than ever before.

Thankfully, foreseeing the future educational needs of the industry, The Global Travel and Tourism Partnership (GTTP) funds educational programmes designed to inspire and welcome the next generation of employees and entrepreneurs. GTTP delivers free educational courses and training worldwide for 16–19-year-olds, helping young people find a practical route into travel and tourism careers.

Through a new technological partnership with Equator Global and Travel Uni they have almost doubled their delivery of free courses in the last 4 years (from 400,000 to over 750,000 students) thanks to the integration of our e-Learning platform. We have the content, resources and digital power to support the next generation of travel professionals.

By putting new IT infrastructure in place in organisations such as GTTP we can hugely increase distribution and create a vibrant community of young people who will enjoy life changing and fulfilling education. Not just important for their own wellbeing but the future success of the tourism industry worldwide.

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