£15m centre to address tourism skills shortage
GRŵP Llandrillo Menai has announced its vision for an industry-led project to address the skills shortage in the tourism and hospitality sector in North Wales.
The £15 million North Wales Tourism and Hospitality Centre of Excellence, proposed for the Grŵp’s Coleg Llandrillo site in Rhos-on-Sea, would support the tourist industry at a time of unprecedented growth across the region.
The project is seeking up to £10million as part of the North Wales Growth Bid, with a £5million contribution from Grŵp Llandrillo Menai.
The key tourism businesses and organisations who have formally expressed an interest in becoming partners in the project and a willingness to support it to date include Zip World, Surf Snowdonia, Always Aim High Events, Greenwood Forest Park, the Llandudno Hospitality Association and Conwy council.
Lawrence Wood, principal of Coleg Llandrillo, said: “One of Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s key goals is to support the needs of industry in a growing North Wales economy.
“By engaging closely with the tourism and hospitality sector, and talking to people at the heart of industry, we recognised that there is an urgent need to address significant employment gaps in this important growth sector.
“This is needed in order to increase the resilience of tourism businesses in the context of decreasing EU labour and to support the development of sustainable and high value tourism jobs.
“Crucially, also, there’s work to be done to position tourism and hospitality as an aspirational long-term career choice.
“What we’re proposing is an exciting private and public sector partnership providing training through a ‘hub and spoke’ model.
“The ‘hub’ of the development would entail re-imagining one part of our campus building at Rhos-on-Sea to provide worldclass tourism and hospitality training facilities, along with associated business support, that would equip learners with the high level skills required to support the growth of the sector.
“The ‘spoke’ element is what makes the project truly exciting as it brings in partners from the heart of the industry itself to provide on-the-job training, work experience, and – crucially – to continuously feed back and engage with the hub in order to influence the development of the training offer as industry needs evolve.”
Andy Ainscough, managing director at Surf Snowdonia, Dolgarrog, said: “Recruiting locally has always been a priority for us.
“Apart from generating a positive economic trickle down, employees with a vested interest in the region are always going to be your best ambassadors.
“It’s really important for the sustainability of the sector – and our region – that we invest in the kind of training and skills.”
Jon Merrick, Conwy County Borough Council’s Business and Tourism development manager, believes the creation of the North Wales Tourism and Hospitality Centre of Excellence is a vital step for the region. “While the area boasts world-class attractions and seasonal tourism businesses, there is a need for more training and skills to educate the next generation of workers’” he said.
“The strength of the proposal is that the purpose-built Rhos-onSea Tourism and Hospitality Campus by Grŵp Llandrillo Menai – which forms part of the Growth Bid and wider Growth Vision for North Wales – would be complemented by satellite centres at attractions and companies in all six counties.
“They will offer support and opportunities for business and will foster strong links with education partners across the region, raising awareness of career opportunities within the sector.”
North Wales Tourism’s Jim Jones said: “Developing skills and conveying the message, particularly in schools and colleges, that working in tourism and hospitality is a realistic career proposition for students interested in a range of areas, from marketing to digital and social media, design and more, is crucial.
“We need to raise the perception that there are high-paid roles available in the tourism and hospitality sector, right here on our doorstep. In fact, there is an increasing number of high-paid, permanent jobs available.
“We are on the brink of transforming the sector from seasonal to all-year-round, which is a significant breakthrough.”
Surf Snowdonia is backing the £15m project