Comment: Tell apprentices ‘You’re hired’

Comment: Tell apprentices ‘You’re hired’

Are you watching the current series of The Apprentice on TV? I am, and as usual have sat mostly open‑mouthed as the UK’s supposedly most promising entrepreneurs – at least in their own minds – make a total hash of tasks set by Sir Alan Sugar.

But it’s been fun seeing a couple of travel companies involved in this series.

A few weeks ago, Travelzoo was a client in a corporate hospitality challenge at Wembley Stadium. And last week it was the turn of P&O Cruises, whose ship Britannia hosted the teams on a trip to Bruges, where the contestants had to create and sell tours of the historic Belgian city.

All credit to P&O for allowing these muppets to be let loose on their customers, who appeared to be surprisingly tolerant of some of the most inept tour guiding you’ve ever seen. At least the ships looked good!

Apprentices have been high on our agenda recently following the launch of our Take Off in Travel 2018 industry prospectus for students and young people.

We also held a fascinating discussion about training and development in travel at our latest Business Breakfast. The key message was that apprenticeships should be embraced as an opportunity to fill skills gaps, harness fresh talent, and develop and retain existing staff – and, crucially, apprentices must be paid an acceptable, healthy wage.

In TV’s The Apprentice, the winner goes home with a £250,000 investment in their business. In the real world, simply the offer of a full-time job with great career prospects will suffice.

The last thing we want in travel is for the brilliant apprentices we take on to reach the end of their courses, only to hear the immortal words ‘You’re fired’, and leave our sector for good.

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