Young Voices in Tourism survey finds young people want to press reset on the industry

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A report into the future of Australia’s young tourism workers has found the industry needs to hit the reset button if it wants to attract a strong workforce in the years to come.

The Young Voices in Tourism survey spoke to 175 workers aged under 35 between late March and late April, after JobKeeper ended.

It found 74 per cent of respondents believed young people had experienced similar or poorer outcomes than other tourism workers in 2020, largely because many were in less secure casual or entry-level positions.

While 95 per cent of respondents perceived tourism as a “fun” sector to work in, only 28 per cent believed that young people were fairly treated in the industry, and only one in four thought that young people had a strong voice in the sector.

“This report highlighted how difficult the previous 18 months were for young people in tourism,” said co-author Hugh Fitzpatrick, who is chair of the Young Tourism Network.

Meanwhile fellow author Matt Skykes, from consultancy Regeneration Projects, said the survey showed plenty of room for improvement.

“There are opportunities to hit the reset button and look at young tourism professionals in guiding the future.”

Young travellers care about sustainability

It also revealed only one in four respondents believed the tourism industry was addressing climate change.

“Operators need to be able to articulate their purpose much more clearly, their alignment to sustainability, having annual reports that signal that is what we’re about, and we’re demonstrating it because we’re tracking it – that’s an expectation of young people,” Mr Sykes said.

“This is a snapshot inside the minds of the young people of Australia. I think as a collective, the business community needs to step up its game around sustainability.”

Monash University tourism student Isabel Hurley was among those who took part in the survey.

“Tourism can change the world, I think it sounds cliché but it can give communities more job opportunities and exposure to different cultures,” she said.

“I think that there is a big shift towards sustainability and what travellers want.”

A lot of brand damage going on

Mr Sykes said in the past year, uncertainty due to lockdowns saw respondents reveal they would be likely to dissuade someone from working in the tourism industry rather than recommend it.

“There is a lot of brand damage going on,” he said.

“A lot of people have to diversify and do other things. I wouldn’t say at the moment, tourism, hospital and events is where young people want to be. So how do we reposition the industry? There’s some work to be done.”

Bendigo Heritage Attractions chief executive James Reade said the majority of his 50 staff were under 40 and the organisation had to pivot to keep young people employed.

“I think most people in life want job security, and with snap lockdowns, we have a decline in young people applying for positions at the moment,” Mr Reade said.

“We traditionally relied on a casual workforce, but COVID has forced us to give people more job security. So we’ve been offering more full and part-time roles.”

Time to reset

The report called for young people to have a bigger say in the decision-making processes.

“You end up with this tension between an established leadership and these young voices that are trying to break though,” Mr Sykes said.

“And we need to flip it on its head, and see the tension as a creative force and open up that intergenerational collaboration.”

Hospitality business owner Natasha Thompson said a bigger say for young people would help ensure a strong future for the industry.

“Some young people in hospitality get screwed over with their wages and entitlements,” the 33-year-old said.

“It might be an employer not paying their super or they are straight out of school and being taking advantage of.

“These young people are important workers, they’re skilled and the future. Everyone should have that level of fairness in their workplaces.”

(Original ABC Article)