Nick Boles MP, Minister of State for Skills, presented evidence to the APPG for the Visitor Economy this week to mark the end of the inquiry into skills and apprenticeships in the hospitality and tourism industry.
The inquiry received over 30 written submissions from a variety of organisations including international hotel groups, SMEs, training providers, further education bodies, trade organisations and campaigners and since January has received oral evidence from the British Hospitality Association, Springboard, People 1st, UKinbound, Whitbread PLC and Jurys Inn.
A number of issues were raised at the meetings, including school and post-16 education, the structure of current apprenticeship programmes and the challenges facing both apprentices and their employers.
The APPG for the Visitor Economy will forward recommendations to put to the industry and government in the forthcoming weeks.
The APPG has 24 MPs from all political parties as members. The group was established in 2015 to address a range of key issues facing the hospitality and tourism industry, the 4,490,000 employees working in the sector and its economic contribution to the UK.
The APPG will next look at the impact of tourism on coastal communities.
At the APPG Nick Boles MP, Minister of State for Skills said: “Apprenticeships aren’t just for students, there are for people of all ages. While funding for apprenticeships between 16-18 is more generous, anyone above that age can get funding, the same amount whether you are 19 or 55.”
“As a country, we under-invest in our apprentices’ and there is considerable evidence that these roles create transferable skills which can be used later on in life. At present, the Government spends £1.5 billion a year on apprenticeships which will increase to £2.5 billion in 2020, representing the Governments level of commitment.”
Margaret Ritchie, co-chair of APPG for the Visitor Economy, MP for South Down said: “Apprenticeships in the hospitality and catering industry are a vital component in further improving the service our hotels and restaurants offer their visitors.
“Recruiting enthusiastic people of all ages and giving them the right skills is good news for everyone – it opens up sustainable career paths and helps keep the hospitality industry a vital part of the economy as we have shown in Northern Ireland.”
Nigel Huddleston, co-chair of APPG for the Visitor Economy, MP for Mid-Worcestershire said: “We had a very useful session during which Nick Boles MP answered a range of questions covering not only apprenticeships but the curriculum, schools careers advice and the relationship between travel industry bodies and the government.
“In response to questions about the need for further details on the apprenticeship levy we were delighted to hear that the government will be providing significant additional details within the next couple of weeks.”
Ufi Ibrahim, Chief Executive for the British Hospitality Association said: “We welcome the work of the All Party Parliamentary Group to investigate and highlight the key issues for the visitor economy. This inquiry on skills and apprenticeships has shown the huge industry contribution being made and the potential to achieve even more in partnership with Government.”