Lawrence Durden, National Tourism Manager at Skills Development Scotland talks to Glasgow Welcomes about the importance of skills to the tourism and hospitality sector, and endorses Glasgow Welcomes as a best practice initiative which plays a key role in helping to make the city a top destination for tourists.
“Tourism is big business for Scotland. In 2014, it contributed £4.8 billion to the Scottish economy. There are over 13,000 tourism businesses in Scotland and 185,900 people are employed by the sector across the country.
“With these kinds of figures, it is hardly surprising that tourism has been identified as one of seven key growth sectors to fuel Scotland’s economic success.
“A skilled, confident and passionate workforce is a vital part of a successful tourism industry.
"In my role at Skills Development Scotland, I work with businesses to identify the skills they need and help to supply those skills through training opportunities.
“Across the country, tourism businesses look to Glasgow as a best practice example and something to aspire to in terms of what they’ve achieved as a destination.
"There are a number of key reasons for this. As a city, Glasgow recognises the role that customer service skills play in creating a confident workforce that is capable of delivering an excellent visitor experience. Tourism businesses in collaboration with other city partner organisations work together to identify the skills gaps and what needs to be done to fill them. And, there’s a key focus on local knowledge and the role of leadership and management.
“All of these areas are brought to life by the Glasgow Welcomes initiative. The training has been developed by the unique public-private partnership that supports the initiative and their products are all designed in response to feedback from tourism businesses in the city. Along with the project partners, Skills Development Scotland has provided funding for the Glasgow Welcomes-Online module because it’s cost and time effective for business, as well as providing rich content to improve local knowledge. There’s increasing attention on skills and networking opportunities for leaders and managers, and it’s aligned to the city’s tourism strategy, as well as Tourism Scotland 2020, the national tourism strategy.
“The four key areas of our Skills Investment Plan for tourism – management and leadership, customer experience, attracting talent and high quality training provision – are all provided by Glasgow Welcomes, making it a key delivery route for Skills Development Scotland. In addition, the initiative’s programme of networking and industry events offers us a direct route to market to engage with tourism businesses.
“More businesses are getting involved with Glasgow Welcomes, which is great news, but we know that it is a challenge for SMEs, who are time and resource poor. SMEs account for around 80% of all tourism businesses in Scotland, so it’s vital that skills and training solutions are tailored to their needs to encourage engagement. In my experience, small businesses tend to identify and engage better with local structures and I think that’s why Glasgow Welcomes is so effective because it’s owned and led by the local tourism industry.
“Thirteen per cent of Scotland’s tourism employment is in Glasgow, making the city a key destination for Scotland’s tourism reputation and success. There are lots of opportunities for businesses for training, networking and skills funding and the key benefit in the city is the partnership approach, so businesses, regardless of their size, are not alone.
“By working together in the way Glasgow does and pulling in the same direction, we can make Scotland a destination of choice through a memorable visitor experience, delivered by skilled and passionate people.”
Lawrence Durden is National Tourism Manager at Skills Development Scotland
Find out more about tourism training and funding opportunities at www.ourskillsforce.co.uk