Overseas roles for young people are crucial for developing the industry’s leaders of the future, says G Adventures managing director Brian Young

With the pandemic dominating headlines in recent months and businesses struggling to deal with the fallout of the travel halt, the looming Brexit exit date of January 1 is fast-approaching.

Whatever your political position on Brexit, it’s undeniable that the effects of leaving the European Union will have a devastating blow on the overseas job market and the many younger workers with a passion for working overseas.

I started my career in travel overseas at the age of 19, working for Club 18-30. When you work abroad, in a foreign country, away from home, you learn to grow and adapt quickly. These were some of the most formative years of my career, where I grew from a “green behind the ears” teen to managing big responsibilities.

According to campaign group Seasonal Business in Travel (SBiT), 87% of the 25,000 people working in the EU supporting travel are aged 18 to 34 and, until recently, the opportunities overseas have been plentiful. Whether it was the dream of working in a ski resort or as a rep or bar worker in a destination like Ibiza, there were a myriad of jobs available for the picking. Young people had the opportunity to take short-term contracts, or extend and build a career in different destinations.

These roles gave young people life skills; skills that you simply couldn’t get by staying at home in the UK. The variety of challenges and roles thrust upon you when working abroad is vastly diverse; from dealing with customers and suppliers and handling admin to working on sales as well as people management, all these teach you to think on your feet and develop a worldly approach to problem solving.

Many of these companies also run management and training programmes, to help develop young talent into leaders.

During my time abroad, I had to adapt and deal with constantly shifting scenarios, while learning the responsibility of P&L, budget, profit margin and negotiation. At the age of 21, managing Majorca for Club 18-30 was a huge responsibility but one that pushed me to grow and learn quickly. I wasn’t the only one in our industry whose career was propelled from this type of experience; Andrew Botterill, Lucy Huxley, Giles Hawke, Clare Tobin and Derek Jones to name a few are all leading major companies, leaning on experience they learnt in their early years overseas.

A no deal Brexit threatens to take away these valuable life and career opportunities for our younger generation. Failure to allow young people to work short-term within Europe without the need for visas or permits will block movement of British workers looking to upskill and gain experience overseas.

We need to fight for these roles, which have stood myself and many others in the industry today in such great stead, and support the opportunities for our next generation of travel industry leaders.

There are ways we can help, including supporting the Save our Travel Jobs petition, which is calling for Boris Johnson to agree with European partners that young people should be able to work for short periods of time across Europe.

These roles have helped to build our industry, giving us some amazing leaders, and they are essential for operators to continue to deliver outbound tourism in the future.