Travel Convention 2016: Leading firms embrace apprenticeship levy

Leading travel companies have agreed to embrace a new government apprenticeship levy having previously been sceptical about the costs and potential benefits of the scheme.

Any company with a payroll of more than £3 million will contribute 0.5% of PAYE in the form of a levy from April 6, 2017, to support apprenticeships while smaller companies will receive government support to limit their costs, depending on their size.

While some final details still need fine-tuning, speakers at a Travel Weekly Business Breakfast at the Abta Travel Convention in Abu Dhabi voiced their backing for the initiative.

Tui UK and Ireland managing director Nick Longman last year expressed concerns about the costs involved but said the company’s view had now changed with Tui taking on 2,000 apprentices in areas ranging from IT and engineering to cabin crew.

The scheme was previously unavailable to seasonal workers such as cabin crew but that has altered, making it a “great opportunity” for people of all ages, he said.

Hays Travel managing director John Hayes also admitted to having reservations about the levy but said that as time has gone on he had got more comfortable about the initiative and now saw it in a positive light.

The agency group took on 150 apprentices this summer and plans to add similar numbers over the next two years.

Travel 2 and Gold Medal managing director Andy Freeth said the dnata-owned B2B businesses did not run apprenticeships but its consumer-facing brands use college leavers.

But he and their other panellists called on the travel industry to be more proactive in promoting the diverse nature of the sector to job seekers of all ages.

“Young people don’t realise just what opportunities there are and don’t understand the breadth of opportunities in the industry,” he said.

Longman added: “The industry has not done a great job in raising awareness in schools. People don’t understand the types of careers available. We need to get out as an industry and into schools.”

Hays agreed and said: “We need to be proactive and sell ourselves in schools.”

Freeth went on to say that the message should be extended to teachers and college lecturers who also require a better understanding of the opportunities available across the wider travel industry.

Abta partnerships manager for education Vicky Wolf stressed that the association was working with universities, colleges and City & to build connections.

This was helping attract interns to the workplace, assisting newcomers gain a foot in the door to the industry.

Abta will be calling for support for a new travel apprenticeship board in the next few weeks to represent all sectors of the industry following two years raising travel apprenticeship standards ahead of the introduction of the levy.

The 2017 edition of Travel Weekly’s prospectus for the industry ‘Take Off in Travel’ has launched, read online

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