Opinion: Let’s champion our industry to students

Opinion: Let’s champion our industry to students

Tui UK retail director Kathryn Ward says her own experience demonstrates the career opportunities available within travel

I’ve always felt that the travel industry has never been very good at promoting itself as an attractive sector to work in for school or college-leavers and graduates.

Perhaps we’ve wanted to keep it among ourselves how great it is to work in travel and how lucky we are to sell holidays, as opposed to double glazing or short-term loans.

I think it’s great that Travel Weekly is trying to change that by promoting the industry to schools, colleges and universities with the new Take Off in Travel initiative.

While some graduates might be put off because of the lower starting salaries, those that are passionate about travel and love working in a people-focused industry will be able to weigh up the balance between money and job satisfaction.

I think it’s fair to say that you are always kept on your toes in this industry, with company takeovers and mergers, natural disasters and political uprisings, not to mention volcanic ash.

It’s this constant culture of change that keeps things interesting in travel and is why so many of us stay in this industry. 
 
The travel industry is still one of the few industries where someone without a degree can work their way to the top with talent and hard work.

I started working in travel after getting a taste for it while doing work experience in my local Lunn Poly travel agency.

I was then offered a full time job there and gave up my college course. It was a decision that was not popular with my parents, but I had a good feeling about it.

That was 25 years ago and since then I have been rewarded for my hard work with promotions, trips to incredible places for conferences and fam trips, plus more challenges than I could ever have imagined.

As university fees continue to rise I imagine that going straight into a role where they train you and you can gain some qualifications at the same time will become even more popular. 

At Tui UK we already have a very established and successful apprenticeship scheme that has been running for 20 years. 

Apprentices are able to work in the shop and gain an advanced level apprenticeship in travel services at the same time.

The work-based learning scheme recruits apprentices each year and since 2006 has trained more than 2,000 apprentices at intermediate and advanced levels.

Travel is also a very flexible industry with many opportunities, both full and part-time.

If you work for a tour operator you could work in a shop dealing with sales, in head office working in marketing or IT, overseas in one of the holiday resorts or on an airline.

I hope that Take Off in Travel and its supporting industry bodies will be able to get students excited about the possibilities of a career in travel.

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