The retail, tourism and hospitality (RTH) industries have undergone significant change over the last decade, with the further expansion of internet shopping, online booking of accommodation and the rise of travel and experience review sites such as Trip Advisor, to name but a few.

The majority of RTH businesses are micro, small or medium-sized enterprises which face particular issues in terms of training and skills. Further Education institutions are keen to meet the needs of these businesses and understand the challenges they face. With this in mind, ColegauCymru / CollegesWales sought to gain a better understanding of the skills requirements and challenges facing small businesses in the RTH sector and commissioned research in this area.

The research took place in two stages: a quantitative approach looking at issues related to skills and qualifications in SMEs; and a second, more qualitative, interview-based piece of research focussing on SME skills needs, recruitment, the differences between the training needs of businesses in retail, hospitality and catering, and importantly, how to meet these needs with a focus on how Further Education (and, in some cases Higher Education) should react in terms of developing courses and approaches to teaching and learning more widely. The current report is a summary of the second stage of the research and the qualitative interviews undertaken.

This work raised many unsurprising issues such as problems with transport and the difficulties of recruiting in particular parts of Wales. However, less obvious issues such as how to provide outlets for creativity for those people who have chosen creative professions when the available work in those professions does not match the level of challenge that they anticipated, also arose. The example of the theoretical new chef who dreams of working in a Michelin starred restaurant but is instead destined to cook gammon, egg and chips in a pub night after night struck a particular chord and gave rise to the title of this report.

Addressing some of the challenges in this report will not be easy but as some of the businesses interviewed demonstrated, new and flexible solutions are possible, in terms of recruitment, how training is delivered and the type of training delivered.

This report represents an important contribution to understanding the issues facing skills providers when seeking to meet the needs of SMEs.

ColegauCymru looks forward to sparking a conversation and seeing how best to address the recommendations set out by the research team of Mark Lang, David Pickernell, Celia Netana, and Simon Thomas. ColegauCymru is grateful both to the research team and for an EACEA grant to EQAVET National Reference Points, which funded the research and made this work possible.

Dr Rachel Bowen
Director of Policy and Public Affairs, ColegauCymru

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