Government Policy for Travel and Tourism, Hospitality and Events Education
Government Policy for Travel and Tourism, Hospitality and Events Education
Why this petition matters
The Tourism, Hospitality and Events sectors are recognised as major contributors to the UK economy. To continue to grow and thrive the industries require suitably qualified and skilled staff.
We the undersigned call upon Government to recognise the importance of Tourism, Hospitality and Events (THE) education to the UK economy, and to reflect this in current policy approaches to further and higher education which currently fail to take into account the structure of the industry.
A study produced for the government in 2021 showed that, in 2018 (the most recent year for which full figures are available from the Office for National Statistics (ONS)), the tourism industries contributed £127.5 billion to the UK’s economy (gross value added or GVA). This equated to 6.7% of all GVA added in the UK in 2018. 3.9 million people were employed in the tourism industry in 2018. For the same year, the ONS calculated that the tourism direct gross value added (TDGVA) for 2018 was £71.7 billion.
A parliamentary paper in 2019 showed that the economic output of the hospitality sector was £59.3 billion, which was around 3% of the total UK economic output. Hospitality businesses represented 3-5% of businesses in each county and region. In the three months to March 2020, there were 2.53 million jobs in the hospitality sector in the UK, representing 7.1% of total UK employment.
A new report by Cities Restart has revealed that spending on international conferences and business events in the UK is estimated to have been worth £19.4bn in 2019. Following the interruption caused by the pandemic, by 2026 it is now expected to be worth £27.6bn, a 43% increase. A report by BVEP suggests the events industry is worth £70bn.
While there may be some cross-over in the data, based on different definitions of tourism, hospitality and events, these reports collectively highlight the significant contribution that these industries make to the UK economy.
To achieve and sustain this level of economic contribution it is critical that the sector is able to access highly qualified, skilled graduates who can become the leaders of tomorrow.
Current Government policy, however, does not reflect this, with policies for both Further and Higher Education (discussed below) that reduce the attractiveness of programmes targeted at the sector at a time when all three industries are facing significant challenges to recruiting suitably qualified staff, spanning entry-level positions through to senior management jobs.
A reduction in students taking THE programmes at both HE and FE levels will simply result in a workforce that is not equipped to lead the industries forward, exacerbate workforce retention issues and will limit the sectors’ ability to achieve growth. Our specific concerns and recommendations are outlined below.
For Further Education:
The Guide to the post-16 qualifications landscape at level 3 and below for 2025 and beyond (publishing.service.gov.uk) notes that THE subjects are currently not in the T-Level schedule and there is no plan to offer travel and tourism qualifications after 2025. While the alternative qualification plan for 2025/2026 states that sector-specific qualifications can be introduced, the awarding organisation will need to provide strong evidence for the need for an academic qualification and none currently plan to do so. There should be no need to make this case for THE given the economic contribution the sector makes to the economy and the need in the sector for staff who can make an immediate contribution to businesses.
For Higher Education
In 2021, the Government released a series of policy papers about the future of post-compulsory education in England:
- The Skills for Jobs White Paper
- Interim Response to the Augar Review
- The Independent Review of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)
- The Department for Education Consultation on Post-qualification admissions
Together, these documents set out an overall strategic direction for post-compulsory education. The policy approach focuses on ‘value for money’ for higher education courses, a move we fully support. However, the critical metrics – continuation, completion and progression – are not developed to reflect the structure of the THE sectors.
For example, the measurement of graduate outcomes 18 months after completion is an arbitrary timeframe. Many THE graduates will travel for a year after completing their course – meaning it is likely to be 12 to 24 months after completion when they secure their first graduate-level job. There also appears to be no recognition that early, relatively lower-paid employment still leads to strong graduate employment opportunities in the medium term.
Currently, entering the sector as an Assistant Manager or Supervisor (as many graduates do) is not recognised by the government as a graduate job. However, it is unreasonable to expect a new graduate to move into a full management position within 18-months of employment.
Management of these businesses is no less complicated or challenging than many of the jobs recognised as graduate positions, requiring high level problem-solving and critical evaluation skills. There is a need to review the coding of jobs in this sector (SIC codes) so that they reflect the true value of the roles and the industry’s view of graduate jobs.
Similarly, graduate salaries are initially lower than STEM, Law and other professions, and it often takes between 18 months and 2 years for graduates to be in roles that the government measurement tool would consider to be graduate level.
It is also important to note that, despite this, many graduates do enter the industry on completion of their degree in jobs that the industry considers graduate level, but which are not considered graduate level roles by government – pointing to a need to review the data and processes that are used to inform SIC codes.
The Lifetime Skills Guarantee
While we note that the Government plans to strengthen the UKs skills base through a “lifetime skills guarantee”, THE are excluded from the eligible qualifications. There is little justification for this, given the importance of the THE sector to the economy and its anticipated growth going forward. It is already facing major recruitment issues and allowing people from a wide range of backgrounds, at any time in their lives, access to appropriate training would help achieve the required, skilled workforce. We strongly believe that there are significant opportunities which would support the Government’s targets for the growth of the economy, if the THE sector was given a more strategic role in the delivery and implementation of government policies. As such, we call for action in the following areas:
- Recognition of THE as a priority skills area with the provision of appropriate, industry focussed post-16 qualifications, with THE identified within the T-Level schedule.
- Recognition of the contribution that THE sectors can make to economic growth.
- Appropriate measures of graduate outcomes within THE that recognise career routes and trajectories.
- A review of the SOC codes to reflect more accurately the nature of THE graduate jobs.
- Increased ministerial recognition and advocacy of THE within the Government’s economic and business sector targets.
- A more joined up approach across Government Departments to engage with THE as a significant contributor to the UK economy, and a sector requiring an educated and skilled workforce
 Promoting tourism in the UK - House of Lords Library (parliament.uk)
 Business events industry worth £27.6bn by 2026, finds report | Conference News (conference-news.co.uk)
 UK Events - BVEP launches report focused on £70bn events industry