Tourism boom could be undermined by absence of trained staff – Mulherin

Fine Gael Mayo TD for Mayo, Michelle Mulherin, has called for the introduction of an apprenticeship scheme to train people for the tourism industry in order to satisfy the demand for staff.

Raising the issue in the Dail with Junior Minister at the Department of Education and Skills, Ciaran Cannon, Deputy Mulherin said she is concerned that the success of the recovery in our tourism industry is being threatened by a shortage of trained and skilled staff to fill positions that are becoming available, in particular positions for chefs.

“This is leading to hotels, pubs, and restaurants recruiting substantial numbers of staff from outside the country. Given the number of people on the live register who wish to upskill to find work, we need to find a solution to the apparent skills shortage.

“Figures provided by the Irish Hotels Federation suggest that 5,000 course places would be required immediately to meet demand, with a further 2,000 places needed each year.

“Filling this gap will require the introduction of an apprenticeship scheme, perhaps under the auspices of vocational education committees which have educational and training facilities in place nationwide.

Ms Mulherin said that basic training in reception and kitchen work and other aspects of accommodation and food services provision that would lead to FETAC level 4 and 5 awards is not available. There is currently no intermediate post-Leaving Certificate education other than the full-blown tourism courses offered by third level institutions.

“This gap in provision has been identified by the Irish Hotels Federation and Restaurants Association of Ireland. I urge the Department of Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation and SOLAS, in conjunction with hoteliers, restaurateurs and their representative organisations to take immediate action to provide proper training.

“Such a scheme would facilitate integrated education and allow trainees to attend courses on certain days while continuing to work in restaurants and hotels where they would receive practical training. We have an excellent opportunity, in accordance with the Government's Pathways to Work programme, to increase the employability of jobseekers and provide education that is integrated with jobs.

“The men and women working in the hospitality sector are essential to its success. Training them properly will ensure visitors have a good experience, pay return visits and advise their friends to come to this country. These steps should be taken sooner rather than later so that jobseekers in Ireland can benefit greatly from the significant increase in tourism to our country,” she concluded.

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