The Importance of SMEs
Report Segment: Conclusions
This report has looked into the issues around skills in the tourism and hospitality sector. It has been noted that the industry has a number of distinguishing features which sets it apart from other business sectors and differentiates it from other service industries. Small and micro businesses are vital to the tourism economy: they dominate the sector in every sense: providing more jobs, greater contribution to GDP and are far greater in number than larger businesses in the sector. Although there have been many successful initiatives aimed at SMEs in the sector, the high growth agenda and the bias against very small businesses (less than 5 employees) has often meant that those most in need have lost out. Moreover we have noted that colleges (and one can add to this, universities and business development agencies) find it easier targeting larger businesses where they can count many more employees “under one roof”.
Whilst the sector is good at joining together to form local associations, it is less enthusiastic about developing joint training ventures. Given that so many tourism businesses are very small – it makes sense to develop sustainable joint training initiatives.
It is no surprise that customer care comes out as the key area of training required. The report emphasises the importance of seeing customer service not as a ‘bolt on’ but as the very heart of the sector – the engine room which powers the industry. This clearly has implications for supporting and developing the sector.
Apprenticeships are key to the health of the sector. Over-reliance on migrant labour is uneconomic since many EU workers will either return to their home country or leave the sector for their chosen career. Either way, this adds to recruitment costs which have always been high in the industry. Creating new flexible apprenticeship schemes could go a long way to reducing these unnecessary costs – and of course it could lead to a new brand of young tourism professionals, proud of the sector and keen to develop a career.