Both groups are currently consulting employers across their industries for their views on the proposed merger, which they expect will be endorsed by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) in mid-June.
According to People 1st, joining the two groups is a natural fit because it brings together all aspects of a visitor’s experience of the UK, from arrival at the airport and transport around a city through to accommodation, dining out and visits to tourist attractions.
The merger would allow for more efficient operations within an environment of reduced government funding, said People 1st communications director Jacqui Christian.
“If we’re working together it gives us the opportunity for economies of scale and the efficiencies of operating to a bigger market,” she told BigHospitality.
“GoSkills do the equivalent of what we’re doing for the passenger transport sector. But we’ve developed a more extensive training programme, so we’ll be able to bring it to that sector too.”
Improving the UK’s welcome to visitors has long been top of mind for the hospitality sector, which has worked hard to improve customer service. However, despite the sector’s efforts, visitor impressions are often negatively biased by poor customer service in other areas.
Results from last year’s Nation Brand Index (NBI) survey of 20,000 adults worldwide found that although Britain was the fourth most admired country by global tourists , it only came 13th for its hospitality scores.
“There are challenges to make sure that the industries within our sector value and access the training that we believe is necessary,” said Christian.
“Part of the drive for this also is the opportunity presented by the Olympics. We want to make sure that the customer service training that people need to prepare for the Games is available to everyone who’ll be welcoming people.”
People 1st will this week be applying for funding from the government’s Growth and Innovation Fund (GIF), which aims to help businesses develop the skills they need to drive growth.
“We’re looking at how we can bid for money from GIF to extend the offer of the National Skills Academy for Hospitality because we believe we can offer our training programmes to passenger travel too,” said Christian.
People 1st is currently calling for industry comments on the proposed merger.
Once final endorsement has been given later this month by the trustees of People 1st, the employer board of GoSkills and the UKCES, the groups expect the merger to be completed on 4 July 2011.
Interim funding from the government will provide the groups with an short-term ‘buffer’ period to align their operations.