These are the first apprentices signed up to the new Blackpool Tourism Academy – designed to improve the experience of visitors to the resort’s top attractions.
The 20 students embarked on the 12-month programme with an induction day, involving a tour of Blackpool’s six largest visitor attractions.
The resort landed £1m from the Government’s Employer Ownership Pilot to set up the new academy, which is a collaboration between Blackpool and The Fylde College, Blackpool Council, and visitor attractions –and aims to raise the skills of people who work in the visitor economy.
Melanie Fielden, lecturer and assessor at Blackpool and The Fylde College, said: “We wanted to start the course by giving the apprentices an overview of all of the attractions featuring in the Blackpool Tourism Academy so staff are aware of what each facility offers to customers.
“Ultimately, we want to further improve service standards across Blackpool and ensure that, whatever attraction someone visits, they will receive the same high level of service.”
The visitor attractions involved in the programme included Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Merlin Entertainments, Cuerden Leisure, Sandcastle Waterpark and Blackpool Zoo, while Blackpool Transport Services provided complimentary passes for the induction day.
The college has designed a Level 2 and Level 3 Blackpool Tourism Practitioner qualification for the BTA, which will be delivered across the town over the next three years.
The training package, which will see students learn about customer service, team leading, retail, sales, personal development, hospitality, and health and safety, will be co-funded by tourism employers within 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.
Blackpool will be the first resort to achieve this status nationally.
Luke Garvey, 24, from Blackpool, a lifeguard at Sandcastle Waterpark, said: “I’m pleased to be part of the academy as it means I’ll get an extra qualification.
“This course will allow me to help the customers when they ask me questions.”
Connor Blackburn, 21, from Blackpool, a trainee zookeeper at Blackpool Zoo, said: “We had the chance to meet the other apprentices and tutors who will be on the course at the induction day, which is good.
“It was really entertaining seeing how all of the other attractions operate and getting a better understanding of how Blackpool works together.”
Amy Green, 20, from Cleveleys, who works at the Blackpool Winter Gardens, said: “The induction day was exciting; it’s good to do something different.
“We looked round all of the attractions in Blackpool and learnt the history behind each of them.
“My boss suggested the academy to me and I thought it would be a good idea.
“I work in the box office at the Winter Gardens and this will help me with my customer service skills as well as knowing what’s going on around Blackpool.”