Ask Brian: Where can my students get work experience in the tourism sector?

New online programme offers a wealth of advice over how to get started in the industry

Each year hospitality and tourism businesses look to recruit over 6,000 entry-level employees across all areas of their operations. Photo: iStock

Question: I am a Transition Year co-ordinator at my school and some students have asked about the career options within the tourism and hospitality sector. They are also interested in doing work placements. Who might provide them with good quality placements?

Answer: Thankfully, tourism is booming again in Ireland. It now supports an estimated 230,000 jobs in Ireland, equivalent to 11 per cent of total employment.

With over 60,000 new jobs created since it began to recover in 2011, the industry is well-positioned to create in excess of 40,000 additional jobs over the next five years, so there are certainly opportunities for your students within this sector.

Each year hospitality and tourism businesses around the country look to recruit over 6,000 entry-level employees across all areas of their operations. That’s the most important piece of information to communicate to your students.


Apart from the traditional options of chef/food and beverage /front office, there are many opportunities in roles in leisure centres and spa facility management, sales and marketing and human resources, travel, tour guiding, management, finance and ICT.

Furthermore, there is a recently launched online programme, "tourism insight" ( It is a free resource, giving young people a comprehensive introduction to a most rewarding industry, and helps them to discover what life in tourism and hospitality is really like.

The programme is packed with tutorials, videos and interviews. Through interactive tutorials and interviews with young people working in tourism in Ireland today, the programme provides a comprehensive introduction to the industry and its landscape, what it means to the country, what’s going on in the different tourism regions in Ireland, and the marketing aspects of promoting Ireland as a destination.

As well as arming students with information about careers, it shows the steps that can be taken to get started in the industry, whether it’s through CAO, direct entry or post-Leaving Cert provision, where learners can take part in some great training schemes that suit their specific interests.

As this was developed in partnership with industry bodies, it offers links to partner businesses where students have options to undertake site visits and work placements.

At an international level, schools can also participate in Global Travel & Tourism Partnership global competitions, to represent Ireland on the world stage.

An Irish unit has also begun development to specifically illustrate the importance of the Irish language experience in this sector.

The partners in this development are running roadshows throughout the country at the moment. They showcase a wide range of specific occupational roles within the tourist industry.