Michelle Van Sprang (third from right) with a group of apprentices at Panache Cruises
Training as an apprentice offers an easy and robust way into the sector, AS Training’s Michelle Van Sprang tells Juliet Dennis
National Apprenticeship Week is an opportunity to inspire newcomers to join the sector and motivate firms about the benefits of taking on apprentices to create a talent pipeline.
That’s the message from Michelle Van Sprang, director of AS Training, a leading travel training firm, on the government-funded awareness week running from February 5-11.
“The message is to try to attract new people into the travel industry,” she says. “Apprenticeships give them an easy and robust way into the sector and to learn new skills. It is accessible to all and a chance to earn while you learn.”
AS Training is marking this week with visits to colleges and to its apprentices in agency branches nationwide. It is also hosting training webinars with suppliers, and running giveaways, including fam trip places to those studying to become qualified travel consultants.
During the week, AS Training will give out two fam trip places to apprentices to attend the first Atas Experiences event, in Lake Como, Italy, and two places on fam trips with Palladium Hotels & Resorts.
Van Sprang is already confident travel employers are starting to see the benefits of taking on apprentices to build up their workforces and as a way of upskilling existing employees of all ages.
“Most people are open to it now; they need new staff and are seeing the success stories,” she says.
The Travel Consultant Level 3 qualification is equivalent to two A-levels and takes just over 12 months to complete while working at an agency. Although employers must have the time to nurture and monitor apprentices and pay them a salary, the course is 95%-100% funded by the government.
The qualification is an alternative to a two-year travel and tourism diploma course and one that provides a job at the end of it, subject to the employer taking on the apprentice full-time, says Van Sprang.
“Not everyone is ready for the employment world straight from school, it’s a big step,” she adds.
“But by the end of the apprenticeship they have shadowed peers, built up relationships and made some bookings. After 12 months, some are top-sellers.”
The apprentice experience
Chloe Eggleton, apprentice, Fred Olsen Travel, Norwich Airport
“I chose to do an apprenticeship in travel because I have always been very interested in this industry.
There are so many fantastic places to see. Being involved in helping people to find and go on their holidays is amazing, whether it’s a special occasion or a break away in the sun. You are not just booking your customers a holiday; you are booking them memories and potentially a holiday of a lifetime.
Being an apprentice is an opportunity for me to learn as I work.
You get really involved with the daily duties of being a travel consultant and not only learn from the research you do yourself and your team around you but also from your customers. This comes from building a rapport with the people you see and welcome into your agency on a daily basis.
In my view, becoming an apprentice travel consultant is a great way to start a career in a fantastic industry.
I enjoy being an apprentice travel consultant, particularly looking at new and popular destinations to travel to. I really love being able to get involved in everything from administration to booking people holidays.
Not only are some of the destinations truly amazing, but I also get to hear and learn about customers’ personal experiences and memories of them first-hand, whether it’s a cruise or a package holiday.
Being involved in the training sessions provided by many tour operators also really helps to widen my knowledge; I have learnt about some places I would never have thought about before.
I really do love everything about being an apprentice travel consultant, and I am looking forward to the future, continuing to widen my knowledge, and progress further.”
Sky Needham, apprentice, Travel the Globe, Cumbria
“I chose to do a travel consultant apprenticeship because it was an amazing opportunity to learn new things about destinations and airlines. So far, I am really enjoying it; I’m in a well-supported environment. I particularly like serving clients in store, which has helped my confidence.”
Millie Howard, apprentice, Pure Travel, Halifax
“I’ve always loved the idea of working in travel but wasn’t sure how I could get into the industry, so completing a travel apprenticeship seemed perfect. I enjoy learning about different areas of travel from the webinars and online learning, and the freedom you get to grow as a colleague as well as a student.”