Jayson Westbury, chief executive AFTA
There is a lot said about Australia having a skills shortage, or low unemployment and as such, finding, keeping and motivating staff is a never-ending and always needed thought process for all employers.
It is not easy to attract people, and particularly young people, into the travel industry and there are many reasons for this. The biggest challenge the travel industry faces is the enormous amount of choice young people have when considering what they might like to do as a career or when selecting a job post-secondary school.
Much is done at the high school level these days to attempt to help guide school leavers in a particular direction, but we have as a nation become very university-focused as the primary goal after leaving school. Given that, trades and TAFE courses are often a fall-back or not a first choice.
The travel industry from an entry level perspective falls into this category and while there is again nothing wrong with this, we need to do more to explain how the travel industry presents a true career for the long term with plenty of opportunities for advancement.
It is not just a job you get so you can travel while you think about what else you might like to do. Those days to some degree are gone, and that is reflected in the numbers. By this I mean we have definitely experienced a reduction in the number of students taking up a Certificate III Travel, which for the most part is the starting place for those wanting to enter the travel industry.
It might be time to rethink the entry process and there is work being done within the government-led regulatory environment to consider areas that could be improved. That said, it is not easy and unfortunately a slow process.
In the meantime, those that are in the travel industry are our biggest assets in terms of engagement and telling the stories about why the travel industry is a great place to work. It is an interesting thought that if the #iloveworkingintravel were to become a thing and all of us who work in the industry embraced this hashtag and used it as much as we could, the story about working in travel would be told extremely successfully.
The definition of young is all in the perception of the person. And the truth of it is, the travel industry does not just need young people. We are open to all people who want to work in a fun, action-packed, rewarding industry.
So while I don’t have the golden egg to answer the question — how do we attract more young people into the travel industry, I think the use of the #iloveworkingintravel, might just be one place to start.