Mayor Ben Houchen visited Stockton Riverside College today (January 10) to open the second Tees Valley-based branch of travel agency Oneworld Travel.
The travel firm, which also has bases in Yarm, Beverley and Wakefield is partnering with the college to provide training and work experience, and aims to improve skills and knowledge within the travel and tourism sector. The branch is also creating two apprenticeship positions, working alongside the agency’s manager.
Since the election of Mayor Houchen the region’s Combined Authority has supported the creation of more than 2,000 apprenticeships. It has also secured the devolution of £30 million from Central Government to transform Adult Education across the Tees Valley and provide the skills that local businesses need.
Oneworld specialises in creating bespoke itineraries to long-haul destinations such as Thailand, Vietnam, China and the Far East as well as the US and the Arab Emirates.
Samantha Harvey, the company’s founder and managing director is originally from China and moved to England more than 23 years ago, setting up her first branch with only £800. She also had to retake all of her qualifications as her Chinese credentials were not recognised in the UK.
Mayor Houchen said: “What a truly inspiring, entrepreneurial story which shows that with enough determination, anyone can be a Tees Valley success story. It’s great to see jobs and apprenticeships being created and students can see a direct route from learning to the world of work. Hopefully with my plan to buy back the airport we can create many more jobs within this sector for years to come.
“Apprenticeships are a massively important part of my plan to revitalise our region’s economy, and that’s why we’ve supported the creation of 2,000 of them across the Tees Valley since May 2017. We’re now seeing the end of cheap labour from across the EU, which means our companies have to invest in upskilling the next generation of Teessiders.”
Samantha Harvey said: “Working closely with the college over the past year, we identified an increase in demand for quality business travel solutions as well as tourism and aviation skills shortages. I’m truly excited about creating quality apprenticeships and training the travel professionals of the future.
“As a business in the travel and tourism sector, we’re backing the Mayor’s plan to save our airport from possible closure. I know how proud our apprentices will be to book flights from their own local airport.”
Stockton Riverside College already has strong Travel & Tourism and Aviation departments, as well as its own Aviation suite, and this collaboration will enhance its offering further. The College also offers a foundation degree in Aviation & Tourism an innovative programme offering students the chance to combine modules from across the aviation, travel and tourism sectors.
Stockton Riverside College Campus Principal Lesley Graham added: “Having this new facility on site means we can further improve the skills, training and opportunities within travel and tourism. It’s also in a perfect location to serve the college as well as our surrounding communities and businesses.”