From education to employment

People 1st study shows VQs set to soar

Vocational qualifications have been increasing in popularity across the board, and demand within the hospitality, leisure, travel & tourism industry is set to rocket.

People 1st, the sector skills council for hospitality, leisure, travel & tourism, has released a record-breaking research project on the industry. Its report, State of the Nation 2009, reveals that the current workforce is better trained than previous generations, which has resulted in noticeably improved skills.

Overall, qualification levels have risen over the last five years. The proportion of the workforce with at least a Level 2 qualification rose from 60 per cent in 2003/04 to 64 per cent in 2007/08.

It is estimated that 170,000 people are working towards hospitality, leisure travel and tourism qualifications in the UK. Three quarters are studying full-time, in FE colleges or undergoing work-based learning programmes with training providers.

"The report reveals the extent to which the job market is becoming more competitive in these industries. In fact, the average number of job seekers per vacancy has more than trebled in the space of a year," said Brian Wisdom, chief executive of People 1st.

In spite of all the training efforts, there are still massive skills shortages. The industry is experiencing the highest labour turnover of all sectors in the UK economy, particularly in hospitality which rose to 31 per cent in 2008, as the industry has grown substantially in the past five years.

A fifth of all sector vacancies are proving hard to fill due to a shortage of skilled applicants. Despite the growing popularity of chef careers, half of employers still find it difficult to recruit skilled chefs, compared to 44 percent in 2007. This worrying trend is expected to continue as an additional 61,000 chefs will be needed in the next ten years.

The hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism industries employ two million people in the UK, which accounts for one in 14 UK jobs. The sector contributes £160 billion, accounting for nearly five percent of the UK’s total economic output – the growth forecast is not limited only to chefs.

The report concludes, "total employment is predicted to grow by nearly 10 percent the equivalent of 208,000 additional jobs, by 2017. When replacement demand is taken into account, projections indicate that a total of 1,063,000 additional people will be required to work in the sector between 2007 and 2017".

(Pictured: Brian Wisdom, chief executive of People 1st)

Solange Berchemin


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