WHILE employment levels are on the rise with over two million people at work in Ireland, there are still hundreds of thousands of people that don’t work, for a variety of reasons, but they have a big contribution to make and it offers great potential to the tourism trade.
That was the message delivered to delegates at the Let’s Talk Tourism forum in Killarney by Paul O’Toole, the CEO of further education and training authority Solas.
He said hospitality, accommodation and food was second only to the wholesale and retail sector in terms of recruitment but there was a problem with “churning” which is the term he used to describe people opting in and out of the sector the whole time.
“The problem is not unique to Ireland. It’s the same all over the world with students taking summer jobs being one example,” Mr O’Toole said.
He said the big challenge for tourism leaders is how to retain staff after training them and there is a need to “future proof the talent pool”.
“A skills shortage is different to a labour shortage. We can’t coral people’s choices but we can make the sector attractive and that will determine how we can successfully fill the talent pool”.
He urged tourism leaders to “reach out” to transition year students in secondary schools to show them how attractive a career in the industry can be.
“We’re doing really well in ensuring higher education take-up. We’re hitting our targets in that but third level is not suited to everybody and there are apprenticeships and training opportunities for people who prefer to ‘do’ rather than learn,” Mr O’Toole said.
Solas helps plan and coordinate further education and training opportunities for over 300,000 people with 30,000 availing of PLC courses, up to 15,000 pursuing apprenticeships, over 40,000 engaged in adult literacy and numeracy programmes and opportunities created for people with disabilities.