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Language skills’ decline threatens tourism

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'But everybody speaks English!': Language skills gap undermines tourism industry

A REPORT released by leading travel trade association UKinbound, has uncovered a growing language skills gap facing the UK tourism industry, caused by a combination of Brexit and the decline of language training in the UK.

The new research undertaken by Canterbury Christ Church University highlights the current lack of capacity in the UK’s education system to meet the shortfall in higher level language skills which are badly needed by the UK’s inbound tourism industry.

To date, tourism organisations have been largely reliant on EU nationals for their technical and ‘soft’ language skills and concerns are rising in the industry about the attrition of these employees. Approximately 130,000 EU nationals departed the UK in the year to September 2017– the highest number since 2008.

Furthermore, a sharp decline in the number of young people studying a foreign language, arising in part from changes to government policy since 2002, combined with a lack of awareness of the opportunities and career paths open to language proficient graduates in the tourism and hospitality sector, are major contributors to the widening language skills gap in the sector, at a time when access to future EU employees is uncertain.

Key findings of the research:

Of the 78 institutions offering tourism and/or hospitality undergraduate programmes in the UK, only 25 offer languages as part of their tourism/hospitality curriculum.

45 institutions offer 87 postgraduate tourism/hospitality programmes – yet only 6% of these programmes offer a language, as an optional module.

The audit identifies Institution Wide Language Provision and study abroad opportunities as alternative ways for students to add an international dimension to their studies

From a sample of 43 higher education institutions that offer a single honours modern language degree programme, only 16 mention tourism as a career prospect.

Interviews with modern language programme directors highlighted a lack of knowledge of the tourism sector and tourism specific career pathways.

The report also features an Evidence Review, drawing on data from previously conducted research and reports, creating a clearer picture regarding the diminishing supply of home-grown linguists

Pupils taking languages at A-level fell by a 1/3 in 20 years (1996-2016)

French declined from 22.7k to 8.5k

German from 9.3k to 3.4k

Spanish increased from 4.1k to 7.5k.

German is no longer a dominant language taken at A-level. French and Spanish continue to be key languages, despite the declining popularity of French.

There has been an uptake in the study of key UK inbound growth market languages; Mandarin and Arabic, but the growth of the talent pool here is slow and limited.

Social, regional and gender inequalities in the uptake of languages are striking.

The number of UK universities offering language degrees has dropped by 30% between 2000 and 2015.

Deirdre Wells OBE, chief executive officer, UKinbound said, “The UK is currently the fifth most visited country in the world and our inbound tourism industry in 2017 contributed an estimated £25 billion to the UK economy. Those working in tourism need to be able to communicate effectively with their international visitors and our tour operators in particular need employees who can communicate confidently and negotiate contracts with overseas operators and suppliers. The industry currently employs large numbers of workers from the European Union to fulfil these roles, but our members are reporting that many of their EU employees are starting to return home. They are struggling to find replacements from within the British workforce, predominantly due to their lack of advanced language skills.

“This report clearly shows that the country needs leadership from the very highest levels to address this impending language crisis, to ensure the tourism industry continues to provide world class customer service and remains competitive in the global marketplace.”

Dr Karen Thomas, Director of the Tourism and Events Research Hub, at Canterbury Christ Church University added: “The uncertainty of the Brexit negotiations appears to have pushed the tourism and hospitality sectors to a critical point, where they not only have to consider the valuable role of EU workers, but also need to evaluate the potential of home-grown talent to meet the needs of the future inbound tourism industry. This research is particularly timely given the body of evidence which has been developing about the decline of home-grown linguists and the potential this has to impact on UK productivity and competitiveness in a post-Brexit landscape. For the UK inbound tourism industry, where language skills and intercultural understanding are crucial in business and consumer-facing roles, the findings of this study raise challenging issues to be addressed by a wide range of stakeholders.”

UKinbound also recently surveyed its members regarding their need for graduates with language skills. Just 34% of members had employed graduates with language skills in the last five years, but 65% of members are now considering employing graduates with language skills in the next five years.

The report findings coincide with the launch of UKinbound’s campaign to highlight the contribution of tourism from EU countries to the UK economy, and to impress on the Government the urgency of securing either no, or minimal, barriers to inbound tourism from the EU post Brexit.

Wells added, “In 2017, two-thirds of inbound visitors came from the EU and contributed an estimated £10 billion to the UK economy. We are calling on the Government therefore to prioritise the need for minimal disruption to this flow of visitors in the Brexit negotiations. Any onerous entry requirements post Brexit will hurt the sector, the economy and cost jobs and any delay risks undermining the sectors ability to prepare for the post Brexit environment.”

The tourism industry is the UK’s third largest employer, employing 3.1 million people (over 9.6% of the UK workforce) and contributes £126 billion to the UK economy, (7.1% of GDP). The UK receives 67% of its tourists from the EU.

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Colourful new eatery ‘The Junction’ opens in Gorseinon

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Junction Bar and Kitchen has just opened in Gorseinon 

A trendy new restaurant has just opened in Gorseinon – and has already been met with an optimistic reaction from locals. ‘The Junction Bar & Kitchen’ has opened upstairs at the Gorseinon Events Centre (known by some as the “GEC”) in Gorseinon High Street and is set to be a huge success, with delicious fry-up breakfasts and mouth-watering burgers, with loaded fries set to be added to the menu very soon.

The events centre itself was first built as a theatre in the early 1900s but, as the years have passed, has developed into a multi-purpose indoor events arena, which now welcomes a mixt of well-known artists and up-and-coming performers and DJs. The venue has two events spaces, two bars, a recording studio and a “DJ tuition room” with access to an extensive vinyl library. For more stories about Gorseinon, go here.

The GEC first began serving meals during the pandemic. Staff members cooked them in the venue’s then-small kitchen, for delivery and takeaway. Public demand grew very quickly, staff say, so management soon added a full-kitchen and a seating area post-lockdown which has proven to work wonders.

Read more: Date and full details announced for Swansea Christmas Parade 2022

Since then, the seating area has grown and staff have further developed the space – ultimately turning it into an open and welcoming eatery, which opened to the public on Monday, October 24. The venue is currently open from 9am to 2pm, serving breakfast and lunch, and will soon be open from 4pm to 8pm as well, offering burgers, loaded fries and other evening meals.

Staff member Jason Thomas said: “The GEC is an events centre which offers a variety of events including world-class DJs like Ben Nicky who is performing in December and up-and-coming DJs, musicians and tribute acts. During the lockdown, the GEC began to offer dinners for takeaway and delivery and had a great response so far. You can read more stories about Gorseinon here.

A fry up on the breakfast menu at The Junction (Image: Junction Bar & Kitchen)
Junction will soon be offering these delicious-looking burgers (Image: Junction Bar & Kitchen)
Inside Junction Bar and Kitchen (Image: Junction Bar & Kitchen)

“People have seen pictures of the burgers we’ll be making [on social media] and say they’re really excited to try them, the pictures are going viral!” he added.

In weeks to come, staff plan on showing big sports events, including Wales games, on the big screens in the GEC and expanding their menu and offerings in The Junction.

In the mean-time, The Junction Bar & Kitchen is servings its breakfast menu from 9am to 2pm. The Junction Bar & Kitchen can be found upstairs at Gorseinon Events Centre at 12 High Street, Gorseinon, Swansea, SA4 4BX.

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Yodel creates over 40 new jobs in Llanelli as it gears up for the festive season

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UK INDEPENDENT parcel carrier Yodel has announced that it is looking to recruit 49 new colleagues at its Llanelli site. This latest drive comes as the business prepares for what is expected to be a busy festive period.

Yodel’s Llanelli depot is a key site in its nationwide network, handling millions of parcels every year and serving customers across South Wales. Recent years have seen a dramatic growth in e-commerce, feeding sustained demand for parcel delivery services with Yodel expecting to handle over 200 million parcels this year. This latest recruitment drive follows a series of infrastructure investments and will support the business as it scales up its operations for peak.

Mike Hancox, CEO of Yodel, commented: “There are a range of roles available based at our Llanelli depot that supports our deliveries across South Wales. Christmas is always our busiest time of the year, but with 2022 bringing additional World Cup related shopping, we’re anticipating a festive season like never before. By joining Yodel, you will become part of a nationwide family and have options to work either full or part-time to suit your lifestyle.”

Our neighborhood courier roles suit a wide variety of lifestyles, and no previous experience is required. In recent years Yodel has developed a specialism in delivering parcels for growing and well-known retailer names.

For more information, please visit https://yodelopportunities.co.uk/ or text ‘Deliver’ to 84433 to learn more about courier roles at Yodel, find out about the values behind the business and apply for current opportunities.

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Community groups receive a share of cash from Ogi’s community fund ‘Cefnogi’

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COMMUNITY groups across Pembrokeshire, Monmouthshire and the Vale of Glamorgan have each received a cash injection, thanks to Ogi’s new ‘Cefnogi’ local support fund.

Wales’s homegrown internet company, Ogi has given over £4,000 so far to community groups in Pembrokeshire, Monmouthshire and the Vale of Glamorgan, to date, with everything from community gardens to coffee mornings being supported by the broadband provider’s micro-fund.

Building on the company’s sponsorship of local grassroots activities at Haverfordwest AFC, Llantwit Major RFC and Portskewett and Sudbrook FC, the ‘Cefnogi’ micro-fund offers small, local groups a cash injection to support activities that directly benefit their communities.

Speaking about the fund, Head of Brand and Engagement, Sarah Vining, said: “Investing in our communities is an important part of our plan to bring full fibre connectivity to towns and villages across south Wales.

“This initiative, bringing small, but no less vital, cash injections to thriving local community groups is our way of giving back to those that are providing much needed support locally.”

The fund, set up by the regional Community Liaison team, offers grants of around £250 to local grassroots groups in the broadband providers roll our areas.

Community Liaison Officer, Martin Jones, one of the team who originally came up with the idea for the fund, said: “I’m thrilled to see so many groups being supported by the ‘Cefnogi’ fund.

“Community really is at the heart of all we do here at Ogi, and giving back through our micro-fund is making a real difference to the local groups we support.”

Ogi’s support extends to volunteering opportunities too, with teams across the businesses having supported the clearing of residents gardens, hosting coffee mornings and redeveloping community spaces.

For more information on the ‘Cefnogi’ micro-fund visit www.ogi.wales/support

The latest round of the fund is accepting applications until the end of October 2022.

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