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Language skills’ decline threatens tourism

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'But everybody speaks English!': Language skills gap undermines tourism industry

A REPORT released by leading travel trade association UKinbound, has uncovered a growing language skills gap facing the UK tourism industry, caused by a combination of Brexit and the decline of language training in the UK.

The new research undertaken by Canterbury Christ Church University highlights the current lack of capacity in the UK’s education system to meet the shortfall in higher level language skills which are badly needed by the UK’s inbound tourism industry.

To date, tourism organisations have been largely reliant on EU nationals for their technical and ‘soft’ language skills and concerns are rising in the industry about the attrition of these employees. Approximately 130,000 EU nationals departed the UK in the year to September 2017– the highest number since 2008.

Furthermore, a sharp decline in the number of young people studying a foreign language, arising in part from changes to government policy since 2002, combined with a lack of awareness of the opportunities and career paths open to language proficient graduates in the tourism and hospitality sector, are major contributors to the widening language skills gap in the sector, at a time when access to future EU employees is uncertain.

Key findings of the research:

Of the 78 institutions offering tourism and/or hospitality undergraduate programmes in the UK, only 25 offer languages as part of their tourism/hospitality curriculum.

45 institutions offer 87 postgraduate tourism/hospitality programmes – yet only 6% of these programmes offer a language, as an optional module.

The audit identifies Institution Wide Language Provision and study abroad opportunities as alternative ways for students to add an international dimension to their studies

From a sample of 43 higher education institutions that offer a single honours modern language degree programme, only 16 mention tourism as a career prospect.

Interviews with modern language programme directors highlighted a lack of knowledge of the tourism sector and tourism specific career pathways.

The report also features an Evidence Review, drawing on data from previously conducted research and reports, creating a clearer picture regarding the diminishing supply of home-grown linguists

Pupils taking languages at A-level fell by a 1/3 in 20 years (1996-2016)

French declined from 22.7k to 8.5k

German from 9.3k to 3.4k

Spanish increased from 4.1k to 7.5k.

German is no longer a dominant language taken at A-level. French and Spanish continue to be key languages, despite the declining popularity of French.

There has been an uptake in the study of key UK inbound growth market languages; Mandarin and Arabic, but the growth of the talent pool here is slow and limited.

Social, regional and gender inequalities in the uptake of languages are striking.

The number of UK universities offering language degrees has dropped by 30% between 2000 and 2015.

Deirdre Wells OBE, chief executive officer, UKinbound said, “The UK is currently the fifth most visited country in the world and our inbound tourism industry in 2017 contributed an estimated £25 billion to the UK economy. Those working in tourism need to be able to communicate effectively with their international visitors and our tour operators in particular need employees who can communicate confidently and negotiate contracts with overseas operators and suppliers. The industry currently employs large numbers of workers from the European Union to fulfil these roles, but our members are reporting that many of their EU employees are starting to return home. They are struggling to find replacements from within the British workforce, predominantly due to their lack of advanced language skills.

“This report clearly shows that the country needs leadership from the very highest levels to address this impending language crisis, to ensure the tourism industry continues to provide world class customer service and remains competitive in the global marketplace.”

Dr Karen Thomas, Director of the Tourism and Events Research Hub, at Canterbury Christ Church University added: “The uncertainty of the Brexit negotiations appears to have pushed the tourism and hospitality sectors to a critical point, where they not only have to consider the valuable role of EU workers, but also need to evaluate the potential of home-grown talent to meet the needs of the future inbound tourism industry. This research is particularly timely given the body of evidence which has been developing about the decline of home-grown linguists and the potential this has to impact on UK productivity and competitiveness in a post-Brexit landscape. For the UK inbound tourism industry, where language skills and intercultural understanding are crucial in business and consumer-facing roles, the findings of this study raise challenging issues to be addressed by a wide range of stakeholders.”

UKinbound also recently surveyed its members regarding their need for graduates with language skills. Just 34% of members had employed graduates with language skills in the last five years, but 65% of members are now considering employing graduates with language skills in the next five years.

The report findings coincide with the launch of UKinbound’s campaign to highlight the contribution of tourism from EU countries to the UK economy, and to impress on the Government the urgency of securing either no, or minimal, barriers to inbound tourism from the EU post Brexit.

Wells added, “In 2017, two-thirds of inbound visitors came from the EU and contributed an estimated £10 billion to the UK economy. We are calling on the Government therefore to prioritise the need for minimal disruption to this flow of visitors in the Brexit negotiations. Any onerous entry requirements post Brexit will hurt the sector, the economy and cost jobs and any delay risks undermining the sectors ability to prepare for the post Brexit environment.”

The tourism industry is the UK’s third largest employer, employing 3.1 million people (over 9.6% of the UK workforce) and contributes £126 billion to the UK economy, (7.1% of GDP). The UK receives 67% of its tourists from the EU.

Business

Port of Milford Haven confirms compliance with National Marine Safety Code

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THE PORT OF MILFORD HAVEN has confirmed its compliance with the Maritime & Coastguard Agency’s Port Marine Safety Code (PMSC).

The confirmation comes following an audit by leading maritime consultants ABPmer.

The Port Marine Safety Code is a national standard that applies to all harbour authorities. The Code and its accompanying guidance provide an essential toolbox to ensure the control of risk and the maintenance of safety in ports and in the marine environment.

Port of Milford Haven’s Harbourmaster and Marine Director Mike Ryan is proud of the Port’s continued compliance with the Code.

“This is further endorsement and confirmation of everyone’s commitment here at the Port of Milford Haven to providing a safe operation for all port users,” said Mike.

Monty Smedley, ABPmer’s Lead PMSC Auditor, who conducted the audit, said: “I am very pleased to confirm to the Port of Milford Haven’s Board that their harbour operations demonstrated compliance with the requirements of the Code, with many examples that we considered to be industry best practice.”

The MCA’s Ports and VTS Policy Manager, James Hannon, who leads PMSC compliance for the UK government said: “The Code is recognised across the industry and has been developed in partnership by the UK government and industry over the last two decades. The resources set out how ports can assess risks, design safety management systems, and also install governance processes to ensure that a Designated Person is able to evaluate controls and report directly to port duty holders and boards.”

The Port of Milford Haven’s Board formally declares its compliance with the Port Marine Safety Code to the MCA every three years.

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Pembrokeshire business encourages others to take advantage of free courses

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IN LIGHT of the recent Welsh Government announcement on the re-opening of the Welsh tourism sector, Wales. A Food Destination is running a number of masterclass sessions tailored for the hospitality sector.

Wales. A Food Destination is a project which specialises in supporting retail and hospitality businesses to source, serve and sell Welsh food and drink through cafes, restaurants, shops, farmers markets, food festivals, B&B’s and tourist attractions.

Throughout April virtual workshop sessions will take place, covering a variety of areas such as local food and drink pairing, breakfast menu inspiration, how to offer the best customer experience possible, through to creating an authentic local eating experience, with a particular focus on sourcing local ingredients.

According to Laura Alexander, co-coordinator for Wales. A Food Destination, the aim is to give a helping hand to those in the sector looking to source, serve and sell Welsh food in a post Covid world,

“It is great that we are able to offer such a diverse range of training opportunities to hospitality businesses in Wales as the sector prepares to re-open. We know that a lot of businesses have been closed for a long time now, and are looking forward to re-opening and refreshing what they have to offer. We are keen to support them with opportunities for learning.

“The masterclass sessions will hopefully assist businesses in recognising how our first rate produce can make their offer even more attractive and help in boosting the sector at such a crucial time.”

One business who have benefitted from attending one of the recent workshops is Melin Tregwynt, based in Haverfordwest.

“It was great to take the time to look at what we can do to prepare for whatever re-opening throws our way this year. Also to be able to access such a brilliant resource of recipes, information and ideas. Thank you to all involved in delivering these courses.”

The good news is that all courses are delivered virtually and are fully funded for any business who sources, serves and sells Welsh food.

For a full list of courses available, please visit https://www.foodskills.cymru/wales-a-food-destination/events/

Wales. A Food Destination project offers fully funded one-to-one consultations, so if you are a retail and hospitality business and are looking for support or advice then please contact Laura Alexander at wales@lantra.co.uk.

Wales. A Food Destination is a project funded by the Welsh Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020. Its aim is to support businesses source, serve and sell Welsh Food & Drink.

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Marketing agency and PR specialist appointed for Visit Pembrokeshire

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Visit Pembrokeshire, Wales’ first Destination Management Organisation (DMO), which launched on 16th November 2020, said in a statement that it is delighted to announce that it has appointed both a marketing agency and a PR specialist.

In a statement, Visit Pembrokeshire said: “This is to help bring to life the county’s 2020-25 Destination Management Plan and to deliver a tourism campaign over the next 12 months.

“Following competitive pitches for both positions, Visit Pembrokeshire confirms that mr.h has been appointed as the marketing agency to develop a new brand identity and shared narrative for Pembrokeshire. The company specialises in the travel and lifestyle sectors and has been tasked with raising the profile of Pembrokeshire, including the destination’s year-round offering, dispersing visitors across the county and driving growth in the visitor economy.”

Also appointed is the experienced public relations specialist Travel PR, which will work in partnership with mr.h and the in-house team at Visit Pembrokeshire.

The shared aim of the agencies is to build awareness of Pembrokeshire’s many wonderful attributes, its ease of access and its year-round offerings – from its stunning coastline to its incredible range of authentic experiences. Growing tourism in a responsible and sustainable way is seen as vital.

The marketing campaign is being funded in part through the Enhancing Pembrokeshire Grant, a scheme which raises funds via second-home council tax premiums. Visit Pembrokeshire was awarded funds to launch an integrated 12-month marketing and PR campaign to grow the value of tourism in the county. Says Emma Thornton, Chief Executive, Visit Pembrokeshire: “This is an exciting step forward for Visit Pembrokeshire. These appointments come at an important time and will support destination recovery. Local businesses and the wider community will benefit from the investment, particularly given the challenges that the tourism industry has faced over the past year.”

Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy, Tourism, Leisure and Culture, Paul Miller, says: “I’m delighted that Visit Pembrokeshire has made these high-quality appointments which will help to take Pembrokeshire to the next level, ensuring it is rightly seen as a world-class destination. I’m determined to support this industry which is so vital to jobs and our economic vitality, whilst ensuring that we manage the destination in a sustainable way to protect what makes it so special.”

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