Oasis Travel and business agency Selective Travel have joined forces with a local college to develop a course to train and recruit the next generation of travel agents.
It is the first time the leisure and business travel agencies have been directly involved in creating a programme specifically designed to train students in the skills needed to be an agent.
The course, which includes work experience in an agency, is being funded by the Department for Education and has been set up based on current recruitment needs.
It is due to start at the end of this summer at the South Eastern Regional College in Lisburn, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.
Students will be paid £150 a week while on the Travel Academy course, which will involve six weeks in a classroom and eight weeks’ work experience in an agency.
After completing the course and on-the-job training, students will have two City & Guilds qualifications: a Level 2 award in Principles of Customer Service in Hospitality, Leisure, Travel and Tourism Accreditation, and one in Teamworking Skills.
It will be aimed at school‑leavers aged 18 and over and will cover leisure and business travel. Subjects will include sales techniques, data protection, interpersonal skills and crisis management, as well as financial administration, topical issues such as terrorism, and the structure of the travel industry.
Students who want to become leisure agents will work at Oasis Travel, while Selective Travel will offer work experience to those who wish to specialise in business travel.
Sandra Corkin, managing director of Oasis Travel, which shed six staff during the pandemic, said: “This course specifically covers business and leisure travel for people who want to work for a travel agency.
“There are travel and tourism courses in Northern Ireland, but they are nothing to do with becoming a travel agent.”
She was confident the move would help create a steady stream of new agents in the area.
“It’s early days but it’s very exciting,” she said, adding: “Like everybody, we are finding it really hard to recruit experienced staff. If we got three or four new staff from this course, I’d be very happy.”