Back in 2013, City Region partners worked collectively to bring together the Skills for Growth (SfG) agreement for the Visitor Economy sector. The agreement, one of 10 agreements in the City Region was developed to capture the current and future skills needs of businesses and communicate this to key stakeholders in the City Region. Employers, skills providers and local employment partnerships within the Visitor Economy sector were asked to publicise the agreements and encourage others to do the same.
The agreement has been a useful resource and the City Region prides itself in providing our visitors with a warm Liverpool Welcome and top class customer service to encourage repeat visits. The Visitor Economy is worth £3.8bn and today supports over 49,000 jobs and its growth is set to continue. It is a major growth sector with massive potential and opportunity for the next generation. This level of achievement is not reached by a poorly skilled workforce. This level of achievement is accomplished through the great employers in this truly magnificent City Region.
However, the time has now come to do more and give this agreement the recognition it deserves. Those businesses who have been involved since the beginning have been highly praised for their input and support, but it is time to act on the priorities within the agreement so that we can strive to achieve our goals. This includes helping to change the perceptions of the Visitor Economy industry as a career of choice, working together to support the retention of talent and improving the opportunities for work experience and mentoring so that graduates are ‘ready’ for employment and possess the correct skills to make the right impression at interview and application stage.
The SfG agreement now needs to move to the implementation stage and consider how the agreement supports the wider priorities for skills and welcome included within the LCR Visitor Economy strategy. An implementation plan sets out what we, as City Region stakeholders, need to do to achieve those headline actions, how we are going to do it, who will be involved and what the intended outcome will look like.
The Local Enterprise Partnership’s Visitor Economy team have been working with the Further Education Colleges and skills providers across the City Region to develop a Visitor Economy skills implementation plan. Together we believe the best place to start is to work with the secondary schools by changing the perception of VE as a career choice. Where does an initiative like this even begin? Well, we all agreed we needed to showcase the diversity and range of opportunities available within the sector, particularly to those students seeking vocational training opportunities that exist outside of 6th form. Secondly, we needed to raise the profile of the sector, most importantly as a rewarding career choice. What did we come up with? Something called Visitor Economy Week – Next Generation.
What does Visitor Economy Week involve? The Visitor Economy Week will deliver a calendar of over fifty events and activities at colleges within the Liverpool City Region between February 8 to 11. There are activities planned covering the whole of the Liverpool City Region. The events are supported and planned by Liverpool City Region colleges in collaboration with their partners, those involved in the delivery are Riverside College, Hugh Baird College, St Helen’s College, Knowsley College, Southport College, Wirral Met and The City of Liverpool College.
The events will provide a taste of what life can be like working in hospitality, retail, tourism and travel. Activities will be fun, informative and interactive giving the Next Generation the chance to have a go!
Events to choose from include Building and Baking with Bako at Riverside College, a Day in The Life of a Zoo Keeper with Knowsley Safari Park, Macaroon Making at The City of Liverpool College in association with Renshaws, The Golf Coast with Hugh Baird College and Greenkeeper Tony Rimmer along with a range of competitions awarding top prizes. It couldn’t get more diverse than this! The week’s events will conclude with a prize giving ceremony.
Liverpool City Region has so much to offer, we all know this. Our visitor economy sector has one of the strongest attack brands in the UK, claiming many prestigious accolades in recent years; The waterfront claiming ‘Greatest place in England’ by the Royal Town Planning Institute, Top 10 European Destinations on the Rise by Trip Advisor Traveller’s Choice Awards 2015 and Best UK Youth Destination at the 2015 British Youth Travel Awards. Showcasing the range of courses available and thus progressive careers within the visitor economy, is a great foundation to enhancing the sector as a career choice.
This is just the beginning. Supporting the skills agenda and helping to develop a skilled workforce will help unlock the Next Generation’s potential and create a valuable, motivated workforce with improved skills and the confidence to really make a difference as well as improving employee morale. All of these factors have a huge effect on visitor experience increasing the likelihood of repeat visits and positive word of mouth recommendations.
If you read the long term ambitions of the Liverpool City Region Destination Management Plan, the target is set at an estimated visitor spend of £4bn supporting 55,000 jobs by 2020. This is ambitious but entirely achievable if we can address the skills needs of our Visitor Economy workforce!
Natasha Mealor, Visitor Economy Executive
For more information about Visitor Economy Skills Week please contact Natasha on email@example.com or 0151 237 3525