Next Tourism Generation - Innovation in skills

Next Tourism Generation - Innovation in skills

09/22/2023 - 15:07

‘Young people are looking for a workplace that resonates with their own values. Think values like sustainable entrepreneurship, doing something good for the environment, social interaction and digitalisation. So if you want to get them excited about a job in the tourism and recreation sector, you will have to work hard on these points.’
  • Expertise
  • Research

A transition on these three focal points is badly needed, according to Lobke Elbers. Lobke is collaborating as a Lead Digital in the EU’s Next Tourism Generation (NTG) framework to research the skills needed in the tourism and recreation sector of the future. 

Social, digital and green. These three elements make up the common thread in this story. ‘You will find the biggest gaps in terms of digital skills and sustainable thinking and doing,’ Lobke says. ‘This was researched in the NTG project we completed in 2022. It gives direction to the course we should pursue with our tourism and recreation education.’ 

More vision, more manpower, more money 
‘Education must become more dynamic,’ argues Lobke. ‘To be able to move sufficiently in a constantly changing world, we must above all innovate in skills. In a cooperation between education, government and entrepreneurs from eight European countries, we have mapped out the skills that are needed. That cooperation is crucial,’ emphasises Lobke, ‘it means more vision, more manpower and more financial resources to achieve good output.’ 

Pact for Next Tourism Generation Skills
That output is a blueprint of skill sets that will be used in the follow-up project. That project is called PANTOUR, which stands for Pact for Next Tourism Generation Skills. ‘In this project, we are mainly investigating which companies and organisations are leading in digitalisation and sustainability. It is interesting to see how they translate their leadership and philosophies into the training and education of their staff. It is the best practices that serve as examples, and from which we can learn.’ What, then, are those best practices? ‘I get that you’re curious,’ laughs Lobke, ‘but the research is not yet complete, so I cannot make any statements about it yet.’ 

Skill sets
Then let’s go back to those skills, can you give any concrete examples? ‘Certainly, they are extensive skill sets that you have to see in context, but to give you an idea, it’s about, for example...' Hold on - for readability's sake I'll put some bullets in front of them:

  • Willingness to learn and to change
  • Social-cultural skills
  • Devising and writing a green policy
  • Developing innovative and sustainable concepts 
  • Communicating green practices
  • Digital well-being
  • Online safety and digital problem-solving

Tool kits
‘With the PANTOUR project, we are making tool kits available which enable us – together, in Skills Partnerships – to transform tourism and recreation education and educate and retrain professionals,’ Lobke continues. ‘These include an interactive Skills Lab for entrepreneurs, tourism professionals as well as jobseekers, and a Quality Standard Framework with lesson plans for education and training purposes. They are tools that allow you to find out which skills are needed in the long term, where your current or future employees still fall short, and what is needed to develop new skills and integrate other working methods in your company or in education.’ 

Human touch
‘The sector is becoming increasingly high-tech at the back end,’ says Lobke, ‘but we should not take this too far at the front end, it is and always will be a sector that revolves around - or perhaps because of - well-being and personal interaction. That human touch remains important. I recently found a handwritten welcome note in my hotel room in Portugal. I was touched so I kept it; these are the kinds of things you can use to distinguish yourself as an organisation in the wonderful and dynamic sector that tourism and recreation still is in my eyes. I am proud of this first European Pact for Skills, fuelled by so many talented and enthusiastic professionals from BUas and far beyond!' 

If you want to know more about the PANTOUR project, feel free to take a look at the website of the Next Tourism Generation Alliance.