Skills in the tourism and visitor economy should be higher up the Government’s agenda a meeting in Parliament has been warned.
Blackpool South Labour MP and Shadow Skills Minister Gordon Marsden has urged the Government to put far more emphasis on the importance of skills and training in the sector – especially given the challenges of Brexit and changes in job routes over the next 10 years.
He was speaking as the host of the Tourism Alliance’s Parliamentary reception for English Tourism Week.
Mr Marsden, who is also national president of the organisation British Destinations as well as co- chairman of Parliament’s Tourism Group, cited Blackpool (which was included in the accompanying video shown to the 200 plus attendees at the reception) as an example of increasing visitor reach and regeneration.
He mentioned Blackpool’s achievements such as the five million passengers achievement on the new look tramway and the makeover of Blackpool Tower and the Winter Gardens - with the bids for a new museum/heritage attraction and the Conference extension for which £3m of Coastal Community award funding was confirmed this week.
But he warned that the Government were still undervaluing the contribution the tourism, leisure and hospitality sectors and the service sector in general could make to new jobs, skills and apprenticeships in places like Blackpool and in the overall economy.
He said it was worrying that of the 15 routes to work the Government had announced in its new Skills Plan from April this year, only four of them were in the service sector.
He said: “There is a double whammy coming down the line - the loss of thousands of jobs and apprenticeships in manufacturing , both traditional and hi- tech, to an automation and robotics revolution – which will make the expanded demand for skills in the service sector - tourism , hospitality , health and social care much more crucial in our economy.
“And the likely loss of tens if not hundreds of thousands of skilled EU workers from the service sector post Brexit, will make increasing support and funding for more home grown skills and apprenticeships in Blackpool and elsewhere , even more urgent.”
Mr Marsden has at the same time set out a five point plan as Labour’s Shadow Skills Minister, to help expand those skills and apprenticeships.