13 Sep

ABTA and UKinbound meet with MPs to discuss UK-EU youth mobility

ABTA and UKinbound meet with MPs to discuss UK-EU youth mobility

ABTA and UKinbound spoke with MPs at an event in parliament yesterday (Tuesday 12 September) to hammer home the importance of addressing UK-EU labour mobility for the travel industry.

The associations organised the parliamentary drop-in session to highlight to MPs and Peers across all parties the challenges outbound and inbound businesses are facing around labour mobility.

Outbound businesses need UK staff working in EU resorts to support customers; similarly inbound companies rely on EU staff and their language skills to support overseas visitors and provide the world-class welcome they expect.

Following the UK’s departure from the European Union, the routes to employ UK staff in the EU, and vice versa, are limited. Those that do exist are proving resource and time intensive, as well as costly.

Research from ABTA and SBiT, published in June this year, found that there has been a 69% decrease in UK staff working in the EU since 2017.

ABTA and UKinbound are calling on the UK Government to expand the youth mobility scheme to EU countries, and to consider more liberal mobility arrangements for tourism workers as part of the upcoming review of the UK-EU trade deal in 2026. It is already in place for some countries around the world including Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. They say it is a simple solution which would bring mutual benefits.

Without suitable arrangements in place, the growth of the sector is at risk. With international travel contributing £80bn annually to the UK economy, largely because of UK-EU travel flows, and with the sector supporting the employment of more than 1.5m people right across the UK, it’s an issue which can’t afford to be ignored.

Luke Petherbridge, Director of Public Affairs at ABTA – The Travel Association said:

“It’s important we keep up the momentum with politicians around the challenges travel companies are facing employing staff UK staff in the EU, and vice versa. We know that it is damaging business and is a threat to growth.

“It is also stifling young people’s opportunity to develop careers within the sector. Many travel leaders started their careers working abroad, and without this route into careers in travel we risk losing great talent to other industries.

“We conveyed these messages strongly when we spoke to MPs yesterday and it was good to see so many engage in this issue and be supportive of the industry’s ask to extend the youth mobility scheme.”

Joss Croft OBE, CEO of UKinbound said:

“The Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS) already exists – we now need to see this expanded to more countries, especially in the EU. This is low hanging fruit for any government. This isn’t an immigration issue as there is no right to remain – but this is a concrete way that young people can learn a new language, develop lifelong associations with the host countries and gain new skills that will benefit them throughout their career. 

“This is a powerful soft power mechanism that establishes cultural, political, and business links between countries. The parliamentarians we spoke to yesterday were able to see the potential economic and social impacts for their constituents. It is important that the Government proactively pushes this programme bilaterally and across the EU, with an opportunity to extend this further, by including YMS in any future trade deals.”