Opinion: Apprentices in the real world are keen to learn

Opinion: Apprentices in the real world are keen to learn

Andy Freeth, MD of Dnata UK B2B says TV show’s egocentric idiots set a poor example to travel newbies

The Apprentice seems to go the same way every year. Having vowed not to put myself through another season, all too soon I’m hooked on the weekly tasks undertaken by the two teams. Granted, the final two or three tend to have some bright ideas, but I often find myself shouting at the telly.

Part of the show’s compelling draw is that these budding “entrepreneurs” aren’t simply competing for Lord Sugar’s investment. This fame‑hungry gang would gladly sell their own grandmother if it brought them an inch closer to being considered for the next Celebrities Dating on Ice in the Big Brother Jungle.

With the search for the multi-millionaire tycoon’s business partner very much under way, I can mainly be found tearing (what’s left of) my hair out at the questionable recruitment preferences and leadership style of the man responsible for letting Katie Hopkins loose on the world.

Which brings me to my point. While the show offers great entertainment, it often misrepresents apprenticeships and overdramatises true entrepreneurship.

Rep’s grounding


Like many of my peers, I started out as an overseas rep. I spent my summers in coastal resorts and my winters in the mountains, worked with some great people and gained an invaluable introduction to the industry. There’s no denying my skiing and drinking prowess improved somewhat too.

What’s more, the skills I picked up – from customer service to time management and the ability to work alone or in a team – meant I soon found myself training overseas staff. And so began my love affair with the travel sector.

In a similar manner, on-the-job training and apprenticeships remain the most common routes to life as an agent. But, to keep momentum in our dynamic and fast-paced world, we also need to ensure more students are made aware of the wide range of roles that tourism has to offer so we can keep encouraging a steady stream of new talent and ideas.

This year’s Abta Holiday Report highlights that 47% of Brits booked a holiday abroad through a travel company or agent – that’s a staggering amount of bookings.

With all the frontline agents, product managers, sales reps and behind-the-scenes support that goes in to creating that trip of a lifetime, I believe there is a role to suit all skills and interests among those keen to join the travel sector.

The Apprentice is a great reminder of how not to develop skill sets for hungry‑to-learn, travel newbies.

Every year, as the final looms, I’m reminded how lucky we are to have such a wealth of talent in the sector and therefore the importance of continuing to nurture and mentor the travel leaders of the future.

You’re hired!


We all know there’s a dramatic difference between a reality game show about business and real business life.

But as we count down to what’s sure to prove a confrontation-tastic finale, it’s worth remembering the biggest difference between the two: in the real world, ambitious apprentices are there to learn, not just to show off what they think they already know.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find out who’s been fired this week.

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