Wye Valley and Forest of Dean Tourism working with its partners at Speech House, Tudor Farmhouse, Puzzlewood and Pedalabikeaway have launched a new and innovative apprenticeship scheme to encourage young people to take the first steps in a career in the visitor economy, as well as encouraging smaller businesses to work together to provide these opportunities.
The hospitality and destination management apprentices are in post in roles across the Forest of Dean and are benefiting from placements in a range of businesses, enhancing their opportunity and enabling businesses to fund a proportion of the apprentice time rather than the full 12 months.
‘This is a great partnership approach to apprentices – up to three businesses share the cost of an apprentice and offer a varied work programme across the 12 months, giving the apprentice the widest of opportunities in our visitor economy’ said Maureen McAllister, Executive Director with Wye Valley and Forest of Dean Tourism. ‘We are delighted this is supported by the Forest of Dean District Council, which enables us as a tourism body to provide 3 months of opportunity for an apprentice before they move on to our business partners. It’s also a great model for other tourism destinations to develop similar schemes and build a pathway for young people to start their careers in this important sector’
Amy Ruck, the first destination management apprentice, started working with the tourism body and then moved to Pedalabikeway and Puzzlewood, returning to the tourism body for the end of her programme.
‘This opportunity is great experience for my future, I am learning on the job as well as at Gloucestershire College with business administration modules. I have been given responsibilities to lead on, and implement, and feel that I can already add value to the businesses I am working with. I am looking forward to the next steps of my programme and would encourage other young people and businesses to work on this type of scheme’ said Amy Ruck, destination management apprentice.
Clare Vertigen from The South West Apprenticeship Company added ‘It gives the apprentices a more rounded experience of the different businesses in the hospitality and tourism industries in the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley, allowing them to complete a full apprenticeship programme, working with a number of different employers, gaining the skills they require to become fully qualified.
This pilot is an exciting initiative, which Forest of Dean and Wye Valley businesses have been crying out for. These businesses want to offer the best career and learning experience to young people and want to support the development of their future business leaders’.
Mark Harper, MP for the Forest of Dean is a keen supporter of this programme, and spurred Wye Valley and Forest of Dean Tourism into action in this area. ‘Good and relevant apprentice programmes are so important and as tourism plays a big part in supporting our local economy, I am pleased that businesses operating in this sector are providing opportunities for young people in the Forest of Dean.
I recognise that for micro and small businesses taking on an apprentice for 12 months could be challenging, however this shared approach is a win/win for businesses and the apprentices they hire and I am pleased that my constituency is leading the way in this regard’.
The next steps for Wye Valley and Forest of Dean Tourism will be to work closely with schools on matching careers in the industry with the curriculum, encouraging businesses to work with specific and relevant subjects such as the art of brewing in Chemistry lessons, the management of historic properties for history, live chef demonstrations for food technology and woodland management in geography. ‘We need to show how careers in the visitor economy are wide ranging and rewarding and are relevant to the wide variety of subjects a student will cover in their school life, exploring routes to bring the curriculum and careers to life’ added Maureen McAllister.