Government plans to merge the travel sector skills council People 1st with its equivalent in passenger transport could end the “minimum wage mentality” in the industry, it has been claimed.

Richard Carrick, who sits on the People 1st board, urged travel employees to get involved in a consultation on the plans claiming it was a big opportunity for the industry.
He said the proposal was a chance for travel to establish itself as a real career of choice for young people rather than as a sector they enter as a stop gap.

“This is a big opportunity for us as an industry to come together with the wider industry, not just travel and tourism but hospitality and transport, and really grip the chance to create a body that is committed to the training and development of young people in our sector.

“There has been a minimum wage mentality in this industry for far too long. A lot of people have taken jobs in travel because it’s something they do on their way to a ‘proper’ career, but we would say there is a prime full time opportunity in travel.”

Carrick was speaking to Travel Weekly at this week’s Institute of Travel and Tourism in Venice where the organisation’s work on training and development was highlighted by chairman and chief executive Stephen Freudmann.

However, Carrick said: “Professional institutes are there to validate and support the qualifications of the people in the industry. The ITT does a great job, but there is a bigger opportunity and that’s what professional institutes should be all about

“I would like to think that if people wanted a career in travel and tourism that the place to go to more than anything else was the ITT. If you are going to be a professional institute you have to have some qualifications kudos. Travel is a great career to be in and if you want it’s for life.”

The merger of People 1st and Goskills, the passenger transport skills council, will create a “new streamlined organisation that can better serve the needs of employers” the two organisations said.

The government said the plan will provide an opportunity for developing learning and skills in both sectors and the two organisations believed there was a “natural fit” between them.

Brian Wisdom, chief executive of People 1st, said: “A merger will enrich the offerings across both of our sectors, allowing for a more integrated approach to skills development in areas of passenger transport and travel and tourism, closely aligned to hospitality and leisure.

“These are areas where there is significant employer overlap and evident synergy between our organisations, particularly the need for customer service and leadership management skills.”

The merger plan could also have the benefit of being able to bring travel into the existing National Skills Academy for Hospitality. A previous attempt to create an academy specifically for travel  and tourism was rejected by the government.

A consultation about the move has started with a final decision by the boards of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills due in the middle of this month.