How the travel consultant apprenticeship is widening the talent pool for business travel firms
Three years ago, travel companies across the business and consumer travel industries celebrated the approval of a new apprenticeship standard for travel consultants, which was set to widen the talent pool, improve skills and help firms retain talent. As the first of its kind for corporate travel consultants, we take a look at the impact it’s having for the business travel industry.
Developed by leading travel employers including BCD Travel, Capita Travel and Events, Clarity, Horncastle Executive Travel Ltd, Thomas Cook, TUI, Eurocamp, PGL, SPA, and GTMC (Guild of Travel Management Companies) and Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), the travel consultant standard was approved in 2016 as a level three apprenticeship.
Specifically designed to apply to both corporate and leisure travel consultants, the standard has since attracted more than 500 apprentices across the industry.
BCD Travel believes the standard is helping to address multiple challenges with talent attraction and retention in the travel sector. Having seen the numbers of experienced agents decline, they feel a different approach is required to assure new entrants of a valued and progressive career path.
“We all struggle with finding the right talent for our sector with dwindling numbers of qualified agents and a demographic that is ageing. The apprenticeship is definitely supporting the uptake of new entrants equipped to expertly handle our customers. The standard supports their structured learning and progression and helps everyone in the team to understand and contribute to their journey towards full proficiency.
“Apprentices bring new light into the office and quickly add value in terms of their impact on others. We’ve found the standard has elevated the skills of the managers who are responsible for the apprentices and the fresh approach of the apprentices has injected more energy into the whole office environment - having a positive effect on morale which in turn affects our productivity.” - Angela Williams, Director of Human Resources UK & IE, BCD Travel
Clarity has found the standards give their apprentices a much greater breadth and depth of industry knowledge.
“Apprenticeships present an excellent opportunity to bring young talent into the business. The standards are flexible and give us the ability to tailor the programme to our business whilst also knowing it meets an industry defined standard. This ensures we’ve got fantastically developed colleagues that live and breathe our brand values.
“Apprentices bring a unique skillset to the business. They are more digitally savvy and therefore more able to work across our variety of online booking tools. They are a more engaged population and often grow to become our top performers, presenting a significant impact on productivity.
“Businesses that are not engaged with apprenticeships are missing a trick – they provide a great opportunity to broaden the talent pool and develop rounded individuals that really deliver for your business.” - Nicky Duffy, National Operations Manager, Clarity
GTMC initially worked with its members and People 1st International on the development of the standard to ensure that it included both leisure and business travel management so it could be applied to careers in both the corporate and consumer travel industries. They’d like to see more businesses across the industry benefitting from the new standard:
“We see the travel consultant apprenticeship standard as a fantastic solution in attracting young talent to the industry and supporting the career development of the next generation of travel managers and business travel professionals.
“Feedback from our members that are using the standard show it is going from strength to strength and adding significant value to businesses in terms of skills development and retention.
“We’d strongly encourage businesses across the corporate travel market that aren’t yet engaged with the new standards to consider the benefits apprenticeships offer.”- Adrian Parkes, Chief Executive Officer, GTMC
To find out more about the work of the Travel Skills & Quality Board visit: http://www.people1st.co.uk/travel-skills-quality-board