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Home > News > May 2004 > 21-May-2004

UK service to be boosted by training and skills

The Secretary of State for Education and Skills has announced the licensing and funding of People 1st, a new Sector Skills Council dedicated to the hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism industries.

Sector Skills Council status was granted following People 1st's application to the Sector Skills Development Agency, the government body responsible for funding, supporting and championing the new UK-wide network of employer-led Sector Skills Councils. People 1st will now be equipped to tackle the employer-led demand for a skilled and productive workforce in an industry that represents more than four per cent of Gross Domestic Product, or over £42 billion each year.

Charles Clarke, Secretary of State for Education and Skills commented: "Productivity in the hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism industries is held back by skills and training needs. Becoming a Sector Skills Council puts People 1st at the heart of the skills debate and gives it the voice needed to engage with government, business and the educating bodies. It will have the power to influence investment in skills at both a national and regional level, improving the nature and structure of training to the benefit of employers and employees."

Tourism Minister Richard Caborn said: "The Sector Skills Council is a milestone for our tourism industry. It will help to make sure that businesses get the skills they need and workers get the career opportunities they want, in an efficient, effective way. This will boost competitiveness and quality, bringing real benefits to the consumer and improving the industry’s long-term economic performance."

John Brackenbury, Chairman of People 1st said: "This is a dynamic and fast-moving industry. If it is to achieve its full potential, there is a clear need for access to the right training and funding to improve skills and productivity. We firmly believe skills are crucial to success. As a Sector Skills Council we will be able to respond to industry needs, helping deliver what business wants and cracking some of the difficulties faced, whether addressing skills gaps and shortages, improving the suitability of vocational learning at all levels or ensuring that public funding for skills development in the industry is spent where business needs it most.

"Working with all employers, this licence enables us to help them get the range of training products and services that they need. People 1st will be employer-led, but employee-aware and customer-conscious. The potential for the sector as an employer and a contributor to the UK’s productivity and profitability far exceeds what we achieve today. We want to help the industry to be the best it can be."

People 1st was officially launched on Wednesday by Lord Sainsbury, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State and Richard Caborn MP, Minister for Sport and Tourism. The event was hosted at The Barracuda, a Gala Casino in London, one of many employers to benefit from the creation of this new industry champion. Trainee chefs and waiters from the ‘Hoxton Apprentice,’ a new restaurant that includes training and support for unemployed and homeless Londoners, showed guests how it was done – creating and serving food for the launch.

Sector Skills Council status means that People 1st now has a statutory remit to represent the sector on skills issues in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Its first priorities are to bring the hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism industries to the centre of the skills debate, establish itself as the voice on skills issues for the sector, build partnerships with key stakeholders, and to work with business to drive productivity through skills development.

People 1st's mission for the next five years is to have an impact on increased completion rates for qualifications and learning programmes, investment in training, employee skill levels, productivity levels, and reduced staff turnover through lifelong career development.

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