The UK travel industry needs to revamp its image as an exciting yet stable industry to work in if it wants to put an end to its recruitment difficulties.
According to Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive at travel agent consortium Advantage, post-pandemic, the UK workforce sees travel and tourism as a very uncertain industry.
“The single biggest impact to why people are not coming back is that they see tourism as an industry that isn’t certain,” she told City A.M. “As we build the industry back, we need to make sure that we can showcase it with the right image, as an industry people can have or continue to have a career.”
Lo Bue-Said’s comments come amid a particularly difficult time, plagued by severe labour shortages in the travel and tourism sector.
Just this week, easyJet was forced to slash the back row of its A319 planes to reduce the number of cabin crew members aboard.
A month ago easyJet and other airlines, including BA, cancelled hundreds of flights following a peak in Covid-infections among their staff. The labour shortages created chaos at major travel hubs around the country, including Gatwick and Manchester airports.
The pandemic is not the only factor to blame for the sector’s woes.
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of aviation trade body Airlines UK, explained last week while Brexit shrank significantly the recruitment pool the sector has available as, post-Covid, those who were made redundant because of the pandemic have decided not to come back.
“People have left aviation to go and work in other parts of the economy and realised, ‘I’ve got a better life doing this,” he said.
Lo Bue-Said said the industry needs a “blended workforce” made of both experts and new recruits.
“We need new talent, we need new skills, we need a new breed of people into the workforce,” she explained.
To get the industry back on track, the chief executive said, all stakeholders need to do their part, government included.
“It’s not funding [we need], I think the industry can stand on its own two feet provided the government enables us to be self-sufficient and operate,” Lo Bue-Said added.
“We need the government to be working with us to help build the image and the brand, to showcase all the benefits the infrastructure can deliver. Without the travel industry and a solid infrastructure system we’re not going to get to Global Britain.”