Gordon has urged the Government to put far more emphasis on the importance of skills and training in the visitor and tourism economy in Blackpool and other holiday destinations - especially given the challenges of Brexit and changes in job routes over the next 10 years.
Speaking as the host of the Tourism Alliance's Parliamentary reception for English Tourism Week, Gordon, who is also national President of the organisation British Destinations as well as co-chair of Parliament's Tourism Group, cited Blackpool (which was included in the accompanying video shown to the 200+ attendees at the reception) as an example of increasing visitor reach and regeneration.
He mentioned Blackpool's achievements such as the 5 million passengers achievement on the new look tramway and the makeover of the Tower and the Winter Gardens - with the bids for a new museum/ heritage attraction and the Conference extension for which £3 million of Coastal Community award funding was confirmed today.
But he warned that the Government were still undervaluing the contribution the tourism, leisure and hospitality sectors and the service sector in general could make to new jobs, skills and apprenticeships in places like Blackpool and in the overall economy. He said it was worrying that of the 15 routes to work the Government had announced in its new Skills Plan from April this year, only 4 of them were in the service sector and warned
“There is a double whammy coming down the line - the loss of thousands of jobs and apprenticeships in manufacturing , both traditional and hi- tech , to an automation and robotics revolution - which will make the expanded demand for skills in the service sector - tourism , hospitality , health and social care much more crucial in our economy. And the likely loss of tens if not hundreds of thousands of skilled EU workers from the service sector post Brexit, will make increasing support and funding for more home grown skills and apprenticeships in Blackpool and elsewhere , even more urgent.”
Gordon has at the same time set out a five point plan as Labour's Shadow Skills Minister, to help expand those skills and apprenticeships. Speaking at the annual FE Week Apprenticeships Conference in Birmingham, these steps included, setting targets to expand access to apprenticeships for armed forces leavers, care leavers and people with disabilities.
Giving apprentices’ increased financial support for travel to work and study places - citing current evidences that they’re spending at least a quarter of their wages on transport.
Expanding pre- apprentice traineeships to give “hundreds of thousands of young people more chance to get more apprenticeships, especially in the service sector. In a 21st century where new ways of imagining and creative, menacing skills will be crucial to their life chances and the U.K.'s success in the world economy”.