Holyhead's recruitment drive

Holyhead Port
The cruise industry has considerable growth potential in Holyhead. Photo: ITV News Wales

If you want to see how difficult the job situation is in parts of Anglesey, all you need to do is watch the faces of the hopefuls who'd like to work in the cruise ship industry. All through the day, knots of people have been turning up to Coleg Menai - to have a preliminary chat, see a presentation; you see from how tightly they're holding the joining leaflets and the literature how much they want the escape of a career.

Around 20 times this year, the large white ferries that sail across the Irish Sea are overshadowed by superstructures even larger and brighter; the cruise ships. Holyhead's become a major port of call. It's worth millions to North Wales' tourism industry.

But in a room at Coleg Menai's Llangefni campus, groups of candidates are being shown the flipside of all the glamour. Not being tempted to join a cruise - but to work on one. The cruising industry's had its recession too - but nowhere near as stark as the one people have faced on land. That industry needs people to run the hospitality side of these giant floating hotels; the barman on a luxury ship who can remember 200 passengers' names - and their favourite drinks - the serving staff who never leave their smile behind through ten or twelve hour days; this is what the 'cruise college' course starting next week - and running for three months - is hoping to achieve; a small flood of suitable staff from rural Wales who can work on liners from Panama to St Petersburg.

Stephanie's brought her mum, who's sat a diplomatic row of seats away from her daughter. You ask how tough it is, not just for a teenager to find work, but to find work in rural Wales. 'It's terrible; we've tried so many things. But this is what she's wanted to do since she was seven.' Stephanie nods. She's maybe 17; and already has an impressive collection of rejection letters. Her mum's being as encouraging as she can - even if finding her teenager a job means saying goodbye to her daughter for months at a time.

So what exactly is the 'cruise college'? Basically, it's all about hospitality; the lecturers tell me it's a three month long course about smiling through everything, anticipating what people will need - noticing in the 2 weeks or so the average cruise runs what people drink and eat and giving them exactly what they want. Without them even noticing their needs are being met.

It all sounds like a wish list you'd impose upon Jeeves or Hudson the butler; but the reality is, this is one sector where there is work, and you can get stamps on your passport, and come home on leave with the certainty of a job. The big white cruise liners may be worth millions to North Wales when they dock here - but the legacy might turn out to be far more than just that...