A new initiative is being launched to provide training opportunities for people working in Devon’s catering, hospitality, leisure, retail and tourism sectors.
The “Open Up To Skills” project will support 700 additional training places to improve workforce skills and will also benefit businesses within these sectors as part of Devon County Council’s economic recovery response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The £450,000 project will provide training which will either upskill employees within their existing workplace or deliver new skills to improve the opportunities available to those seeking alternative employment within other sectors.
A wide range of skills support will be on offer covering everything from digital, financial and operational management skills to diversification into areas such as food hygiene, and other practical skills including customer service.
The catering, hospitality, leisure, retail and tourism sectors are some of the hardest hit by the pandemic. From March 2020 to March 2021, output in Devon’s hospitality sector dropped by around 60%, leisure and arts fell by around 35%, and non-food retail experienced a reduction of 25%. These sectors also suffered the most job reductions, with around 8,000 jobs being lost during this time.
Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Cabinet Member for Economic Recovery and Skills, said:
“There were some positive signs during this summer’s tourist season but there are still many challenges ahead. As we move out of the pandemic, these sectors are struggling to recruit and retain staff and if that is not addressed it will impact on levelling up our economy. So, there is still a need to support those businesses that have survived the disruption of COVID as well as those individuals who have lost their job as a result of the pandemic.
“The aim of this ‘Open Up To Skills’ project is to help local people and businesses in Devon to bounce back quicker through the recovery process. Providing training for individuals in these sectors which have been most disadvantaged will help them to progress with their current employer or into a new career, and this will also benefit the companies they work for.”
The Open Up To Skills project will help businesses and the community overcome some of the devastating impact of the pandemic and inspire many to enhance their skills and improve their resilience to such challenges.
The training will be delivered by Seetec Outsource across the Devon County Council area until March 2023.
Jason Hurn, National Director for Education and Skills at Seetec, highlights the positive impact that this new provision will have on local communities in Devon. He said: “At Seetec we’re committed to improving lives and delivering social and economic value to the individuals, businesses and communities we serve. We’re delighted to be working exclusively with Devon County Council to help these communities bounce back as quickly and sustainably as possible from the effects of the pandemic. Hospitality, tourism, retail, leisure and catering are core sectors in the region, and it will be vital to provide skills that support individuals seeking alternative employment or looking to progress within their chosen career.”
For information on this project and many other skills initiatives please visit the Heart of the South West Skills Launchpad website.