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How an employer-led approach to apprenticeships is putting travel employers at the forefront of the skills agenda

05 Feb 2020
People 1st International
As package holidays are set to maintain their appeal despite the high-profile demise of some of the industry’s largest operators , and the global business travel market showing no signs of slowing down,  the resurgence of apprenticeships is providing a creative and inclusive solution to help businesses meet their current and future skills needs. Attracting bright, young talent keen to progress and evolve with business, the new apprenticeship standards are also proving to be fit for purpose and an appealing prospect for career seekers.
Specifically designed to apply to both corporate and leisure travel consultants, the travel consultant apprenticeship has since attracted more than 1000 apprentices across the industry.  And both the employer and employee are benefitting.  Career seekers gain a much greater breadth and depth of knowledge of the sector than previously offered plus hands on experience and a salary.  Employers gain an energetic, digitally savvy, dedicated pipeline of talent deeply embedded within the company’s culture and values.

An employer-led approach

Driving this change is the Travel Skills and Quality Board, a group of passionate employers who have joined forces to address the issue of talent attraction and retention within the industry with the spotlight on the reformation of travel apprenticeships.  This employer-led approach to apprenticeships puts businesses front and centre in the design, development and ongoing assessment of this in-work training; giving employers the confidence they are fit for purpose and industry relevant.
‘An employer-led approach is important as they have in-depth knowledge of all the skills required along with experience of all the industry’s’ quirks.
Julie Cooper, Membership and Partnerships Manager, BTA
‘Being employer-led means that we are at the forefront of determining the skills and behaviours we require to be successful in our industry sectors.  We must have input to ensure the apprenticeships remain relevant to us as our industry evolves.’
Angela Williams, VP Human Resources, BCD Travel
And travel employers are beginning to see the positive impact of hiring apprentices versus other more traditional routes into the industry.  Apprentices are reported to spark life into a workplace, adding a whole new dimension and bringing with them new perspective and fresh ideas impacting positively on overall business productivity.  In mentoring an apprentice, it effectively forces a business to self-assess and re-evaluate current staff skills and work methods, streamlining existing processes and improving efficiency, as well as crucially tackling the skills shortages.
Apprenticeships are ideal for upskilling current employees but also enable the employer to source talent from areas they may well have overlooked or been resistant to in the past.
Our apprentices have livened up our offices and created a new dynamic in our more established teams where our longer serving staff members are positively embracing the energy our apprentices bring.   They are tech savvy and are sharing their skills and insights whilst learning and benefiting from the experience and know-how of our longer serving members.  They are certainly worth their currency and we will definitely continue to recruit in this way for the future.’
Angela Williams, VP Human Resources, BCD Travel
Members have reported that apprentices have bought a new life into the office, helped existing employees with technology and changed the office dynamics with their fresh approach and ideas.
Julie Cooper, Membership and Partnerships manager, BTA

An employee’s perspective

Megan Skelson, a junior business travel consultant, studied travel and tourism at college and joined Reed & Mackay once her course was completed.  This is Megan’s story:
After work experience with Reed & Mackay, Megan realised the university route was not for her.  “Work experience within the travel industry only strengthened my passion for it – I knew this was where I wanted to be!”.
Megan applied for a position on the admin team where she was surrounded by business travel consultants.  The buzz of the office, the excitement and drive she felt from her colleagues plus earning a salary meant Megan was hooked!  She began to think about moving forward with her career and at this point, knew an apprenticeship would be the next logical step.
Megan started on her apprenticeship journey and never looked back.  The hands-on experience was exactly what she needed in order to learn the skills, knowledge and behaviours from her peers whilst gaining a respected qualification.  Once Megan completed her apprenticeship she was totally focussed on her new role and knew she wanted to progress to a senior travel consultant and, eventually, into management.
Megan has now been working at Reed & Mackay for nearly 4 years and completed her travel consultant level 3 apprenticeship in June 2019.  Megan is responsible for all travel arrangements for her clients including flights, hotels, rail, car hire & car parking, ferries, passports and visas. Megan provides a very professional and efficient service to her clients and is a well-respected, driven member of the team.
For more information on the travel consultant apprenticeship available to your business and employees, click here.
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