The purpose of this paper is to describe and analyse what retail and hospitality industry employers want from training and trainers. Design/methodology/approach: The research project was undertaken for Service Skills Australia, the Australian Industry Skills Council that oversees formal training for a range of service industries in Australia. The paper utilises data from focus groups and telephone interviews with representatives of the retail and hospitality industries, and telephone interviews with staff of the relevant UK Sector Skills Councils, to provide international benchmarking for the issues raised. Findings: Results showed that, while industry representatives stated that they prioritised industry skills and knowledge above education skills and knowledge, a complex mixture of the two was required, which was generally felt to be lacking. Curriculum for training was also perceived to be deficient, despite Training packages having been developed in consultation with industry. A comparison with the UK interviews with senior staff at the UK Skills Councils for the two industries showed similar issues and suggested some possible ways forward for Australia. Originality/value: The paper provides three major areas where improvement in VET training and trainers would be welcome and gives useful initiatives for improvement in those areas. Ã‚Â© Emerald Group Publishing Limited.