The Government and industry desperately need more young people to enter the UK’s travel and tourism industry.  So why has Hannah Cork, a UKinbound intern found it so hard to secure a high quality work placement………………?

I am currently studying International Tourism Management at the University of Surrey, which is fantastic, and has widened my knowledge of the tourism, hospitality and events sector. My course consists of a wide range of modules including Economics and International Events Management which explores the risks and benefits of running an event, furthermore I am developing a workshop for my fellow students about hybrid and virtual conferences.

The course offers the option of taking a year out to work in the industry but I have not been able to secure a placement as only a handful of companies offer this opportunity so there is a lot of competition. I am keen to complement my studies with some practical experience of working within the industry but it has been a real struggle so far.

Over the last few months, my friends and I have contacted and approached numerous tour operators and attractions only to be told that they don’t have the time or facilities to provide us with experience. On one occasion I called a well-established tour operator regarding work experience and to my disappointment they hung up on me straight away. This kind of reception from the industry does not encourage students, instead it will deter and demotivate graduates from actually entering the industry at all.

At a recent university careers fair, I discovered UKinbound – a membership association that represents the interests of the UK’s inbound tourism industry, so I was delighted when they offered me an internship during the Easter holidays.

The team at UKinbound provided useful insights on event management and I undertook a survey with some of their members about Airbnb. Once this is complete, the survey will form part of my coursework but UKinbound will also share the results with their members to provide an insight into the impact that Airbnb is having on the industry.

I was given the responsibility of updating their website, social media channels and contacting members about editorial opportunities. I attended a seminar at VisitBritain and helped at a members networking evening at ICEBAR London. This was an incredible experience and showed me the hard work which goes into organising and managing an event.

I know that undertaking a quality work placement is the single biggest factor to helping and influencing future career decisions for young people. I also understand that there are staff shortages across the industry particularly in hospitality, so at a time when the industry should be doing all it can to encourage young people into the industry, why are there so many barriers to securing work experience?

I believe there should be closer communication between universities and the industry, so students are equipped with the skills and knowledge they need once they graduate. I would like to see more guest speakers from the industry during my course and for the industry to take part in more careers days for students.

I recently helped to organise a career day at my university and saw first-hand how this event helped students to network with industry professionals and gain placements and internships.  We need to have more of these kinds of events and representation from the industry!

My confidence in the industry has been restored a little due to my time spent with UKinbound as their members have been very welcoming and supportive and I’m hoping that I might be able to secure a placement with some of the contacts I have made.

Hannah Cork

Hannah is in the second year of her degree at the University of Surrey.  She is keen to work in the tourism industry after she finishes her degree and would particularly like to work in events or marketing.  If you would like to get in touch – please contact her at hc00245@surrey.ac.uk

 

 

Hannah is in the second year of her degree at the University of Surrey. She is keen to work in the tourism industry after she finishes her degree and would particularly like to work in events or marketing. If you would like to get in touch – please contact her at hc00245@surrey.ac.uk