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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Professional skills

To maintain Europe’s leading position amongst the world's tourism destinations, the industry needs to continuously improve the quality and mobility of its staff to provide top quality, personalised services to all tourists.

Professional skills

Tourism has a huge potential to generate economic growth and create jobs. In Europe, the sector supports 25 million jobs, directly and indirectly.

Tourism is the largest employer of young people, migrants, part-time workers and women. It’s the main entry point to the labour market and provides job opportunities to people who want to re-enter the labour market.

At the same time, competitiveness of tourism very much relies on the competencies and skills of its human capital. Moreover, tourism is changing, it’s becoming more complex and requires higher levels of skills. Businesses and the workforce must adapt to new technologies, new market demands and changes in customer behaviour and expectations.

Recent studies have highlighted the weaknesses of the tourism labour market and provided recommendations on how to address skills mismatches. In particular, the studies underline the following:

1) poor image of tourism careers (e.g. seasonality and limited career prospects)
2) key skills gaps (e.g. digital skills, interpersonal skills, communication, etc.)
3) new skills are needed to remain competitive and tackle the new tourist demand (e.g. destination management, adventure tourism, accessible tourism, green tourism)
4) Cross-border and transnational mobility needs to be encouraged more

The Directorate General (DG) for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs is working on initiatives to improve professional skills in tourism and continuously searches for opportunities to collaborate with other DGs.

Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills in tourism

With the New Skills Agenda for Europe, the Commission has launched the Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills. This initiative is meant to support strategic cooperation in skills development, by stimulating investment and a better use of existing funding opportunities. The Blueprint will have a sectoral approach and, in the pilot phase, will be experimented with in 6 economic sectors. Tourism was selected to be one of these sectors.

The actions under the Blueprint initiative will address some crucial challenges such as:

1) improving the image of careers in tourism
2) support transnational mobility, especially for apprenticeships and traineeships
3) promoting a better knowledge of skills gaps at local level
4) raising awareness about EU funding and tools available for the sector
5) stimulating strategic thinking at national and local level and a strategic use of EU funding.

These actions will be financially supported through 1) a new dedicated lot (Lot 3) in Erasmus+ Sector Skills Alliances. 2) a new dedicated call for tender under COSME.

Pilot project 'Youth on the Spot'

The pilot project "Youth on the Spot", launched by the European Parliament in 2015, is meant to highlight the importance of acquiring the right skills for the tourism sector by taking advantage of mobility schemes in the EU.

A call for proposals was published to select a public-private initiative with the aim to facilitate the uptake of high quality jobs, apprenticeship and traineeship positions in the tourism sector across the EU for a grant.

The selected project is IDEATE.

Informal consultation on how to better target EU initiatives and funding opportunities for developing skills in the tourism sector

In June 2016, the Commission had an informal consultation to better target EU initiatives and funding for skills development in the tourism sector.

The objective of this consultation was to investigate whether the key stakeholders of the tourism sector at European, national and local level:
a) have participated in/know about European initiatives for skills development
b) have made use of EU financial and technical tools developed in order to facilitate skills development and mobility
c) have suggestions for concrete initiatives to enhance skills and mobility for the sector

The results of the consultation are available in the final report.

Study to map and check the performance of the supply side of education and training for the tourism sector

The aim of the study 'Mapping and performance check of the supply side of tourism education and training' (2 MB) was to determine whether tourism education and training systems are fit for purpose in providing the necessary labour market skills for employers currently and in light of future anticipated market developments.

In doing so, the education and training framework and qualifications have been assessed against key criteria in the context of the current key occupations in the sector. Gaps in skills provision have been identified and good practice has been highlighted.

The study was completed through desk research and consultations at European level, as well as in each of the 28 EU countries (countries A-I (Ireland), and countries I (Italy)-U).

The conference 'EU Tourism Skills was held on 21 October 2015 in Brussels, to present the study's main findings.

Study to map the skills and training needs for the improved accessibility of tourism services

The study, 'Improving information on accessible tourism for disabled people', mapped the skills needed to improve the accessibility and safety of tourism services for disabled people and people with special needs. It analysed the availability and the performance of training (both vocational and educational). The mapping exercise was complemented by a performance check of training provisions and barriers to training and an analysis of 20 case studies on skills and training provision which highlighted their strengths and weaknesses. The study was presented at a conference held in Brussels in June 2014.

Dedicated hospitality section in EURES – the EU Job Mobility Portal

Since 2014, EURES – the EU Job Mobility Portal – offers a dedicated section for generating skills passports for the tourism and hospitality sector. It allows jobseekers to present their skill profiles, document their formal and informal qualifications, and have their experiences endorsed by previous employers.

At the same time, employers can search for job candidates to fill vacancies. This tool facilitates a better match of supply and demand in the labour market and improves the mobility of European workers.

Classification of tourism skills and qualifications

In cooperation with the industry and academia, the Commission is developing the ESCO classification (European Skills/Competences, Occupations and Qualifications) specifically dedicated to skills profiles needed in the tourism sector.

Monitoring opportunities

The Commission also monitors existing EU programmes for opportunities to improve professional skills in the tourism sector. Actions include:

  1. Integrating tourism-specific initiatives into EU funding programmes for training such as 'Erasmus+' and 'Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs', and participating in their promotion.
  2. Monitoring sector-specific developments in common European frameworks, such as the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and the European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET).
  3. A dedicated project funded under the Sector Skills Alliances where hospitality is among the pilot industries.