At the conference, held at the college’s Victoria Centre in central London on Thursday 2nd May, travel and tourism students from Brooklands College, the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London and Westminster Kingsway, heard from speakers from ABTA, Tui, BA, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Virgin Holidays.
The students, who all aspire to work in travel and tourism roles, got invaluable insights into the hundreds of exciting jobs available to them; as well as the industry’s class-leading work on managing emergency situations; and the very topical issue of how the industry can make travel more sustainable. And Lee Hayhurst from Travel Weekly magazine led a session on the key issues facing the industry.
The travel and tourism sector makes an immense contribution to the UK economy – in 2016 alone, that contribution was a staggering £217 billion. And, according to ABTA, the industry’s trade body, the industry employed around 1.7 million people in 2012, equivalent to around 5.8% of the UK’s workforce.
With recruitment of new staff always a priority for companies, the conference also gave students the chance to network with possible future employers and find out more about the range of jobs they could do. Hundreds of different roles are filled every year, like travel agents; event managers; concierge and guest services roles in hotels and holiday centres; airline flight crew; tour guides; jobs on cruise ships from navigation and engineering to entertainers, chefs and catering staff; jobs in airports, including ground crew and customer services; and many more.
Lorraine Hewett, Westminster Kingsway College’s Programme Manager for Travel, Tourism and Business, said: “We’re rightly proud of our travel and tourism courses and of the growing number of our ex-students who are making their way in this most rewarding of industries.
“With the UK still poised to leave the EU later this year, there is a growing urgency for travel and tourism companies in the UK to secure a pipeline of suitable staff.”
“Every year, travel companies are looking for new staff to work for them, and with the UK still poised to leave the EU later this year, there is a growing urgency for travel and tourism companies in the UK to secure a pipeline of suitable staff. These employers also need the reassurance that their new recruits are trained and ready to work, so it’s our mission to ensure that our students have a ‘line of sight’ to the industry and that we deliver courses that are up-to-date and relevant to employers. This is why we’ve run this conference today.
Vicki Wolf, ABTA’s Education Manager said: “Westminster Kingsway College, along with two other colleges and 12 universities, are an ABTA Education Partner. We aim to build strong links between our Education Partners and ABTA Members and so we were thrilled to support Westminster Kingsway College with their first student travel conference.”
Grace Tuffery is a former WestKing travel student, who now works for BA. She took time out of her jet-setting job to speak at the conference and told us: “I am based at Heathrow airport and I travel the world with BA, working on different planes including the double-decker Airbus A380 and the Boeing 777 and 787 Dreamliner. I’ve been to dozens of places like Johannesburg, Singapore and Sydney and I love my job. I learned so much at Westminster Kingsway which really prepared me for my career and it was lovely to be able to come back today to chat to students and share my experiences with them.”