THE government's delay in implementing a catering qualification will negatively impact Cumbria's tourism and hospitality industry, a South Lakes MP warned in parliament.

On the floor of the House of Commons Tim Farron challenged the Education Secretary to bring forward a new training course that could be important in addressing the staffing crisis in the hospitality sector.

The Catering T-Level had been due to roll out this September but has now been delayed by the Government until "beyond 2024". This is the second time the qualification, which had been expected to be a catering and hospitality T-level, has been delayed.

Speaking during Education Questions in Parliament, Mr Farron said: "The hospitality and tourism industry is the biggest employer in Cumbria and is worth £3.5 billion to the economy every year.

"Yet those businesses are suffering a huge staffing crisis: 63% of them are operating below capacity because they cannot find enough staff.

"One solution is to recruit and train our own young people into the industry, and a T-level would surely be one way of doing that, but sadly, the Secretary of State’s Government have decided to kick the catering T-level into the long grass.

"Will she rethink that and bring it back front and centre of her campaign to ensure that young people get into that important industry with the right qualifications?”

Responding, the Secretary of State Gillian Keegan said: “I agree with the honourable Gentleman that that is a vital industry, not just in areas of tourism but across the country. We have many full-time hospitality and catering courses at various levels and lots of apprenticeships as well.

"We will bring forward and look at T-levels and at what more we need in that area, and potentially at management in the sector as well; I know that businesses are looking for more skills in that."

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Rachel Tyson, Head of Partnerships & Projects at Cumbria Tourism comments: "We welcome Tim Farron presenting research from our business performance survey to address the Education Secretary in the House of Commons, creating a detailed picture of the ongoing struggles businesses are facing around skills and recruitment in Cumbria.

"This is just one of many key issues Cumbria Tourism is working on closely with the Westmorland and Lonsdale MP. We have been collaborating with schools and colleges from across the county and beyond, raising the profile of careers in our industry and it’s vital that the opportunities for tourism and hospitality relevant qualifications continue in order to develop the future workforce in Cumbria."