Blackpool has landed £1m to set up its new tourism academy which aims to raise the skills of people who work in the resort’s visitor economy.
The funding comes from the Government’s Employer Ownership Pilot, and will co-fund £2m investment in skills training planned by top tourism employers in Blackpool over the next three years.
It means the skills of seasonal and year-round tourism workers will be raised to the World Host standard – the level of expertise seen in volunteers at the London Olympics and 100 new apprenticeships will be created.
Nigel Kilgallon, chairman of the Blackpool Tourism Academy Board and Director at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, said: “Blackpool Tourism Academy is a consortium of key leisure attractions within the UK’s premier seaside resort dedicated to boosting the skills of its seasonal and year round workforce.
“With the assistance of this funding we can significantly expand the range of customer service, supervisory and management programmes on offer to our employees, and pioneer a new tourism practice apprenticeship.”
The training available will range from customer service, supervisory and management programmes, to spectator management, gaming awareness, selling techniques and passenger carrying.
John Child, Managing Director of Sandcastle Waterpark (pictured left) said: “Our starting point will be to embrace the international customer service standard known as WorldHost, best known for training up thousands of volunteers at the London Olympics.
“Our ambition is for Blackpool to be the first UK seaside resort to gain WorldHost destination status.
“In doing so we will training up our own frontline staff as well as offering highly subsidised training places to any tourism or retail business in the resort.”
Bev Robinson, Principal and Chief Executive of Blackpool and The Fylde College said: “The Blackpool Tourism Academy will pioneer the design of a new apprenticeship framework to meet the needs of a modern tourism industry.
“Each employer will have slightly different requirements so the apprenticeship framework will have bespoke modules such as spectator management or selling skills. Once designed, the aim is to create over 100 new apprentice opportunities for people in Blackpool.”
Coun Fred Jackson, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, added:“This skills investment is fantastic boost for the many thousands of people who work so hard in our resort to achieve a first class visitor experience.
“Not only will the Tourism Academy help our businesses to train up staff to be more welcoming but also it will also bring a large amount of money into the town, creating apprenticeships and improving our tourism offer as a whole.
The Fylde coast has the largest single concentration of seaside tourism jobs in the country - more than 19,000.
The consortium led by Blackpool Pleasure Beach includes Merlin, Cuerden Leisure, Blackpool Transport Services and the Sandcastle Waterpark and Blackpool Zoo and was supported by the council and Fylde College through the bidding process.