Jenny de Saulles is her own poster girl; Fáilte Ireland’s director of sector development is the perfect example of someone who encourages others to do, not as she says, but as she herself has done.
The marketing expert who worked for food multinational Nestle in the UK for many years before returning to Ireland and finding another marketing role here, spotted an opportunity in the tourism industry in the form of a job with Fáilte Ireland and never looked back.
Now the Cork native is urging others working in a variety of non-tourism roles to take advantage of the massive opportunities that, she says, will come on-stream in the Irish tourism industry over the next five or six years as a result of a strong government focus on the sector.
There are 260,000 people employed in tourism in Ireland at the moment, she says and because the Government is planning a massive expansion in the sector between now and 2025, another 50,000 jobs will soon be opening up.
A diverse range of career opportunities will become available between now and 2025. For those not working in the tourism sector, but who would like to upskill with a view to transferring the skills they have honed in non-tourism roles, there are huge opportunity in the form of a whole suite of Fáilte Ireland courses specifically tailored with this objective in mind.
“We provide everything from the IMI Strategic Management programme to courses in customer service, to encourage companies to have the right person with the right skills in the right place,” de Saulles says.
“If you’re not in the tourism sector, you tend to think of it primarily as hospitality — hotels, restaurants and bars,” she says.
However, tourism actually encompasses an “amazing breadth of roles” ranging from event management to areas like retail, marketing, and revenue management, she says.
“Tourism is very open to people in other sectors, given the breadth of careers on offer in the industry.
De Saulles lived and worked for 15 years in the UK before returning to Ireland at the peak of the Celtic Tiger boom. She says running a hotel, for example, is not all that different to running another, different non-tourism business.
“There are actually huge opportunities in tourism and your skills are easily transferable,” she says. For Irish people working abroad who wish to return home, the next five or six years offer an unprecedented opportunity to use their skills in a new job in their native country.
And it doesn’t have to be in Dublin either:
“If you’re thinking about coming back to Ireland, but don’t necessarily want to relocate to Dublin, the tourism industry offers great opportunities in the regions in terms of big hotels and tourism attractions,” says de Saulles.
She recalls how she had already returned to Ireland and been working in a marketing company, when an acquaintance drew her attention to a job being advertised in Fáilte Ireland.
“It was pointed out to me and when I looked at it, I knew I’d love it,” she says. She applied and never looked back.
All that’s required for others to take advantage of the many job opportunities coming on-stream in the next few years, she says, is a “mind-set shift” which would allow prospective employees to see the opportunities coming down the tracks.
“People essentially need to see the opportunities there”, she says, adding that the mission of the dynamic Failte Ireland Tourism Careers Team is to showcase tourism as a positive career choice.:
“We’re starting a marketing campaign in January 2020 to showcase the breadth of roles that are available in tourism. We’re targeting second- and third-level students in terms of college and career choices and we’ll be saying to them ‘ think about a long-term career in the tourism industry!’
“We’ll be talking about a range of opportunities, from the standard career choices available in the hotel and restaurant sector, where you can work your way up relatively quickly — for example moving from a job as a waiter to section manager and restaurant manager in three to five years — to roles in large tourism attractions such as the Guinness Storehouse.
Every imaginable role, from being a tour guide and meeting visitors to jobs in revenue and sales management as well as retail opportunities will be up for grabs in the coming years, she says.
“We will also be show- casing careers outdoor tourism for example as a kayaking instructor with Atlantic Sea Kayaking in West Cork, as well as opportunities in event management, for example with hotels, conference centres or destination management companies organising big launches and events.
“What we’re saying is that tourism is a long-term career choice and there are opportunities to continue your development,” she says, adding that Fáilte Ireland is working with industry to build capability.
As a result, there are many opportunities for training, including the Failte Ireland/IMI Strategic Management Programme for Tourism and Hospitality Leaders, which on December 9t began for the third year in a row. This course and others, open the door to upskilling in the case of somebody transferring from the non-tourism sector, and to promotion for those already working in the tourism industry.
“Fáilte Ireland runs courses all year round, on everything from specific marketing and sales roles for the tourism industry, to cost optimisation and getting Brexit-ready:
Fáilte Ireland, she says, is also working in partnership with the global institute Great Places to Work which partners with organisations of every size to develop teams and a trust culture, and as a partner with businesses to make their business better places to work in:
“We are putting the spotlight on tourism. Tourism businesses can apply to get an award as a Great Place to Work in tourism.”