The Gap between what Employers Need and what Colleges and Universities Provide
Report Segment: Hospitality Skills Mismatch
The recently published Wolf Report (Review of Vocational Education – March 2011), is critical of many qualifications currently available throughout FE. She seems to be saying that the QCF framework is inappropriate for young people because they are too task/sector specific. Unfortunately the framework is unlikely to be useful for adults in employment either – especially because employers tend to recognise aptitude and attitude above formal work based qualifications.
Research for the People 1st Sector Qualification Strategy in 2009 found that:
- Employers do not understand the range or purpose of the qualifications available
- Qualifications to aid workforce development are seen as too big and cumbersome
- Employers tend to recruit on attributes and experience, rather than qualifications
- Existing qualifications (particularly pre-entry) are not appropriate and are ‘surplus to requirements’
- Employers are unaware of the value of qualifications over and above in-house training
- Qualifications are too expensive; particularly for micro businesses which represents 76% of sector businesses.
This is a fairly damning list of negative perceptions about skills in the industry – and although People 1st has been working to reduce complexity it is telling that the organisation chose to acquire a training programme almost identical to Welcome to Excellence rather than simply promote what is already there (see below).
The colleges in Norfolk and Suffolk offer a range of hospitality and tourism courses and these are listed in Appendix 1a. The ones in bold are at Level 3 and above.
Customer service comes under this sub-heading, and it can be seen that Norwich City College list the BTEC Principles of Customer Service Award at Level 2 and 3. West Suffolk College also deliver this course although it is not listed in the appendices, and is not scheduled in their prospectus. (A Cultural Olympiad initiative called “On Our Marks” promotes several customer service courses delivered by various providers including West Suffolk College – but the exposure these courses get to a wider audience is uncertain – they are currently listed on the LEAP project website).
It has already been noted that customer service is at the heart of the industry, so it is surprising not to see more courses listed in this category. In addition to Edexcel’s BTEC awards, there are two other competing short customer care training brands for the tourism industry: The Welcome to Excellence Programme (including Welcome Host) and People 1st recently acquired “World Host” Programme.
Given the importance of customer service training to the industry, it would be worth spending some time looking at these different programmes and which one might be best to pursue from an LEP perspective.
The Edexcel BTEC Level 2 Award in Principles of Customer Service in Hospitality, Leisure, Travel and Tourism is a 1-credit and 10 guided learning hour (GLH) qualification aimed at pre-16 year olds and consisting of one mandatory unit. The Edexcel BTEC Level 3 Award in Principles of Supervising Customer Service Performance in Hospitality, Leisure, Travel and Tourism is a 2-credits and 20 guided learning hour qualification (GLH) aimed at over 16’s and consists of one mandatory unit.
The People 1st World Host programme includes a range of optional modules: Principles of Customer Service; Customers with Disabilities; Service Across Cultures; Ambassadors Workshop; and a train the trainer course.
The Welcome to Excellence programme is the longest serving customer care programme for UK tourism and has been continuously developed over the last 15 years. The programme includes eight one-day customer service training courses which provide front-line staff and managers with the skills needed to deliver good customer service. Additionally there are a range of innovative short courses on specific themes such as: Green Edge, and Welcoming Walkers and Cyclists. A new bespoke destination programme has also been developed to provide underpinning knowledge about specific tourism destinations.