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Hospitality and tourism is emerging as one of the UK's fastest growing job creators. Accounting for one in 15 UK jobs (equalling 7.2% of the total working population) it has been labelled as the UK's third largest export earners with an above average growth of 3.5% GVA per year until 2020.

New research from Sector Skills Council People 1st reveals there are significant opportunities for professionals with the need for an extra 638,000 additional jobs by 2017 - of which almost 10% of those are managerial posts.

Director of policy and research at People 1st and co-author of the report, Martin-Christian Kent, stated: "The hospitality and tourism sector is very buoyant during this time of economic difficulty and is the only one that is actively creating new roles and recruiting in large numbers, particularly for highly skilled positions". Martin added: "Given its current and future growth, it's a fantastic career option for new entrants, those seeking flexible working such as mums returning to work and older workers, as well as those switching careers".

The report also found that the hospitality and tourism sector is an attractive long-term career option which offers its employees high levels of engagement. It found that 63% of businesses offer job flexibility, whilst 61% conduct appraisals and over 51% offer financial incentives.

Hospitality and tourism is not only growing but so is its workforce, which has also increased over the past year to 2.1 million, increasing the number of Apprenticeships within the sector by 4,000 from 19,000 to 23,000.

People 1st chief executive Brian Wisdom said: "The sector offers numerous opportunities for people who want to earn and learn, gain experience and a higher education qualification at a time when unemployment is rising and university tuition fees have soared further."

Despite economic difficulties, productivity has risen across all parts of the sector. Its proportional contribution to the UK's economy has increased by 0.4%, accounting for £42,248 million. The most profitable industry by far is the gambling industry, with each employee generating £121.44 per hour worked. Travel services are generating £102.74 per hour, followed by nightclubs, pubs and bars earning £80.89.

The report found that, increasingly, more employers are turning to Apprenticeships as a cost-effective means of recruiting and shaping tomorrow's talented leaders, which ultimately should increase the quality of the hospitality and tourism workforce. Although one in four sector businesses have reported skills gaps, particularly in customer services and management. Some 39% of employers with skills gaps have reported that their managers do not possess the required skills, a significant increase of 9% since 2007.

Lewis Hallam

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