A focus on skills can re-energise the city region’s visitor economy 

With the visitor economy now opening up again the sector can accelerate its recovery from the pandemic by investing in skills – and the Liverpool City Region Skills Brokerage Service is on hand to help

kitchen, chef, hospitality, restaurant
Investment in skills can accelerate the recovery of the City Region’s visitor economy


Just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, Liverpool City Region’s visitor economy was valued at more than £5bn a year.

Now the sector is on the road to recovery there is a challenge to both recruit and upskill staff to meet what will almost certainly be an explosion in demand. Hospitality businesses looking to train existing staff, or take on apprentices, have an excellent resource locally in the shape of the Liverpool City Region Skills Brokerage Service.

It is estimated almost 70m people visit the City Region every year and that almost 60,000 people are employed in a diverse range of businesses, including restaurants, bars, hotels, cafes and visitor attractions. 2008 was a breakthrough year for the sector in the City Region.

Liverpool was European Capital of Culture and the £1bn Liverpool ONE retail and leisure development, as well as the ACC Liverpool Conference Centre, also opened for the first time. Since then the region has been on an upward trajectory with visitor numbers growing each year.

In terms of employment, hospitality is particularly transient and is popular with younger people who will ultimately look to other sectors for their long-term future. But hospitality itself can offer a rewarding career path. It represents 10% of all businesses in the UK and employs 9.5% of the nation’s workforce. However, more than 70% of hospitality businesses are micro-businesses and around 25% are small and medium-sized enterprises.

COVID-19 and subsequent lockdowns, saw a sharp down turn in business activity across the Visitor Economy sector, while many overseas workers left the sector and returned home. However, with the vaccine rollout now in full swing, Liverpool is once again looking to regain its previous momentum and is getting ready to welcome visitors from within the region, the UK and across the world.

As businesses start to reopen, they will need to focus on recruitment but also need to ensure they have the right skills within their workforce. More recently the Visitor Economy sector has sought to improve the standards of customer service.

However this is just one specific training need, and there are many more skills required for this type of business. So, many businesses may ask themselves ‘how do we ensure we continually upskill our workforce? What support and funding is available? And, how do we access it’.

Well, expert help is at hand in the shape of the Liverpool City Region Skills Brokerage Service. Part of Growth Platform, the city region’s growth company, the Skills Brokerage Service comprises an expert team of Skills Brokers who will explain how employers can access funding and find the right training provider for the training they need. This is a resource which will save businesses, large and small, both time and money.

The Be More Apprenticeship Portal also offers Liverpool City Region-based employers the opportunity to advertise their apprenticeship vacancies, free of charge, and there is no need to register or create an account before doing so.

Joe Keegan from the Skills Brokerage Service, said: “While some people will only work in tourism and hospitality for a short time, many will be keen to forge a rewarding career in the sector and there are opportunities for people to do just that.

“Whether people want to work in food preparation, front of house at a restaurant or hotel or aspire to managerial roles, there are multiple training and upskilling pathways available. We can help business of all types and sizes access those opportunities. In particular, apprenticeships are a fantastic way to upskill your workforce and currently there are both national and local grants available for employers to support the costs of recruitment and training.”

The Skills Brokerage Service is one-stop-shop where businesses can find a wealth of advice and support on all funding available for skills across the Liverpool City Region and can even provide up to 70% of training costs for training required by employers which are not funded through any other publicly funded route.

If you are an employer in the City Region looking for skills or apprenticeship advice and/or funding then you can register here. This service is funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and Strategic Investment Fund (SIF).

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