The temporary loss of approximately 100,000 jobs in the tourism and hospitality sectors nationally has decimated the industry in the short term. Kerry and Donegal have been identified as the counties most affected by job losses in tourism with approximately 15,700 tourism and hospitality employees currently unemployed in Kerry. This has had a devastating impact on local businesses, families and individuals.

It looks likely that many parts of the sector may not open until the summer. As a result, two new skills programmes have been developed by Solas and the Education and Training Boards (ETBs) in conjunction with the Irish Hotels Federation and Fáilte Ireland.

Details of the programme were announced by Minister Simon Harris recently and they will provide a much needed boost to employees in the sector. The courses are aimed at upskilling and reskilling employees who work in hospitality and tourism to ensure that the sector can grow and develop in the future and to optimize career prospects for employees in the future. The Developing Leaders for Hospitality programme aims to equip employees with enhanced skills to lead and manage their teams effectively and includes modules such as operational skills, customer care, people management, financial and controls, strategic planning, change management, sustainability and digital skills. The Leadership and Management programme aims to upskill supervisory staff which will help employers to deal with the current business environment and focuses on motivating workers, managing change, effective decision-making, managing remote workers, problem-solving and writing for business. The diploma adds further modules in leadership skills, performance and project management.

Course Delivery and Cost

Qualifications are available at Levels 5 and 6 on the QQI National Framework of Qualifications and will be delivered by local ETBs, online with tutor support or when feasible, a blend of online and in-person training. Delivery will be flexible to suit both the business and employee needs. The Level 5 programme can be completed in three months and the Level 6 in three to six months. It is expected it will be rolled out from March. Employers can receive a subsidy of up to 70% of the course fee depending on various factors relating to the company and there is no cost to the employee.
Bernadette Randles, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of the Irish Hotel’s Federation is optimistic about job opportunities in the sector once the country starts to open up and is confident of recovery in 2022-2023.

“I would strongly urge people to take the opportunity to up upskill now with one of the many course options available through the ETB, Fáilte Ireland or Springboard so it will develop their career further in the sector going forward,” she said.

So, while the short term may seem bleak for anyone in the tourism and hospitality sector this initiative provides a great opportunity to develop professional skills which will help to future proof careers as this and other sectors begin to recover.

To check eligibility and further details log on to or contact Mick Ryan, Business Support Unit with Kerry ETB on 066 7149690 or