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The key succes factors of NTG collaborative Framework for skills development in tourism explained

During the NTG final Conference, a lot of insights have been collected on best practices for skills partnerships. As part of the NTG Blueprint, which sets out a comprehensive methodology to respond to the needs of a new sectoral skills strategy that is innovative, relevant and responsive to the current and future skills scenario in the tourism sector, the skills partnerships has been one of the key succesfactors.

The NTG Collaborative Governance framework within the Blueprint provides guidance on successful collaboration which can support and assist the establishment of National/Regional Skills Partnerships (NRSPs), a key area of focus of the NTG Alliance and the Pact for Skills for Tourism. Additionally, the skills agenda aligns with the Pact objectives of increasing resilience, competitiveness, and social fairness, promoting a culture of lifelong learning, building skills partnerships, and building skills supply.

In this blog we will look at examples from Wales, Italy and Bulgaria.


Best practice Wales

Wales has four regional skills partnerships; Southwest; Southeast; North and Mid Wales established by Welsh government as a core part of the employment and skills strategy of and policy of the Welsh government. The 4 regional skills partnerships feed into the National Skill Partnerships.


Each regional skills partnership is set up with seven different sectors including tourism and hospitality. Each sector is supported by an executive board with representation from across higher education, further education, businesses and government departments.  They are supported by three-year employment and skills plans, which are revised every three years and in October 2022 new three-year plans will be released.


Dr Sheena Carlisle explained structure of the regional and national skills partnerships in Wales.


  • Each regional skills partnership has their own website for their region to disseminate information
  • The regional skills partnerships remit is to support the National economic action plan in Wales
  • The focus upon skills and training supports and meets targets in the regional economic and development plan
  • There are a particular areas which they focus on significantly: it’s about producing and analysing labour market information and that labour market information then informs the skills requirements in that particular sector, they also review the skills provision in that region and advise Welsh government on the future prioritization of  skills  and this helps to support funding as well and the streamlining of funding,  So significantly the regional skills partnership acts as a strategic body whether which is strongly informed by industry engagement and taking accounts of what skills are really needed and identify the gaps.
  • Each regional skills partnership has the executive board at the RSP level and a tourism cluster group which meet on a regular basis – the cluster group is a representation of key regional trade associations in the hospitality and tourism sector and include visitor attractions, hotels, food, outdoor activities
  • The national Tourism and Hospitality skills partnership was established three years ago and- a multi-stakeholder partnership representation from HE, FE, business trade associations, and government departments such as Careers Wales that focuses on recruitment and Qualification Wales that audits and assures tourism qualifications from Level 1-3.


Headlines from Wales

Dr Sheena Carlisle shared examples regional partnerships working very effectively and supporting on national level


In Wales each regional Skills Partnerships have a 3-year plan that include achievable and measurable objectives derived from research and evidence about skills gaps for each region. Within each group there is a tourism and hospitality tourism cluster group which will help feed into that skills partnerships plan. Each plan is reviewed on an annual basis, therefore effective collaboration and stakeholder engagement is crucial.  The National Skills Partnership in Wales has Visit Wales as the secretariat who have responded to the tourism and hospitality sector labour shortages by delivering a recruitment campaign with Careers Wales and Working Wales to promote tourism and hospitality careers. Named the #experiencemakers, the multichannel campaign has been delivered via social media, cinema promotional, tv and on billboards. This is a great example of how having an influential secretariat at the National Skills Partnership can listen, respond, and deliver by backing a high income and high impact careers campaign.


Dr Sheena Carlisle emphasised the importance of embedding an effective governance framework into a skills partnership. In Wales the National Skills Partnership have a terms of reference with objectives of what they want to achieve.  The benefits of the skills partnerships is that they give an opportunity for organizations to share what they’re doing because all these different organizations are working to the same objective in terms of education and training and supporting the growth of the sector.   Partnerships help to develop communication between education departments in government, universities, colleges and small and large businesses via trade associations.   To fill skills gaps requires collaborative solutions rather than work in silos.


There are many issues but one of the key issues is delivering training in skills and researching skills and identifying the gaps which is not a static issue. It’s not something that just remains constant, reviving skills and upskilling and making sure that current employees and future employees have the appropriate skills that can reflect the changing environment in which tourism hospitality operates.   The different organizations who are delivering those skills; researching skills gaps and developing strategies and policies for the delivery and implementation of skills development have to work together.  This helps unity in the direction in which digital and sustainability skills are progressing. The ability of a skills partnership to try and look for some coherence and some way through given the complications of working in the tourism and hospital sector and working in education.  There are lots of skills-based mechanisms which can be refreshed whether that’s internally within a university or college or the revision of national occupational standards (NOS). Businesses can also review their training provision. It’s really important to recognize where those revision and reskilling points are and how they can be influenced and obviously access the funding to support.



Best practice from Italy

Alessio Missuri, Head of Innovation from Union Camere gave an overview the overview of the situation of the regional and the national partnerships in Italy.


Italy has done some great work in a short time. They introduced the collaborative governance framework 3 to 4 years ago by establishing an informal group. The group focused on sharing knowledge on how they were already supporting SMEs in the tourism sector and agreed a list of objectives and established an MOU to formalize their Tourism National skill group.   The first formal meeting of the national skills occurred on March 2nd 2022 and they since met on 12th of May. The National Tourism Skills Partnership now has 17 members, including a business association, chamber of commerce, research centres, University Umbria and other organisations from the regions.  This identified the need to establish regional tourism skills partnerships which can feed into the national skills group and develop the collaborative governance framework to suit Italy’s needs.


Before establishing the regional skills partnerships, strengthening the internal structure of the national skills partnership needs to occur. A 20-page terms of reference document has been produced which includes establishing different working groups with the first focused on events and communication, second on the use of NTG outputs, third on quality and certification skills, and fourth on skills metrics and skills intelligence.


Alessio emphasized the importance of trust in the initial stages of developing their national skills group, and also the importance of networking to gain more key stakeholders to the group, which increased interest in the group. As the group grew it was necessary to appoint a co-ordinator from JAL?? and define roles and responsibilities.  The emphasis is to stimulate the participation and the involvement of specific target of stakeholders from HE, create regional co-ordinators to establish stronger collaboration to share knowledge and at the same time to further establish the governance framework.


Alessio agreed with Sheena the value of the experience from all the skill groups from the different sectors, training institutions and tourism industry and the importance to have the voice of SMEs, as Italy’s tourism industry is very dependent on SMEs.


Another aspect of collaboration Alessio highlighted is the European dimension to identify employees’ skills standards. It is important that the skills of employees doing the same role in a different country are compared. Then it could be confirmed that those skills are in line with the workers of other countries and if their employer’s tourism businesses are competitive and whether that employee requires further training. This is why Italy’s Tourism skills partnership have identified a working group to look at quality skills and certification schemes.


Best practice from Bulgaria

Bulgaria and Italy delivered great examples of relationship building, via effective networking and informal partnership meetings where trust and discussion took place which is crucial for effective collaboration.


Bulgaria started its national skills partnership from scratch similar to Italy, they started with an informal partnership to engage people to explain the importance of skills development and safeguard the future of tourism. Finally in the beginning of December 2021 a formal national skills group was established.


Maya Ivanova explained that the Bulgarian national skills group initially consisted of a very diverse array of partners from business educational institutions, some universities, several training organizations linked to business, local governments and NGOS. SMEs were invited to join too as they are crucial to the Bulgarian tourism landscape. Following the recommendations from the collaborative governance framework, they discussed and agreed objectives, a formal agreement was drafted and signed by all the members in December 2021. All the partners were delighted, the partners understood the value and need for a National Tourism skills group in Bulgaria, especially in the post Covid-19 recovery.


Bulgaria have established effective communication mechanisms via creating a Facebook group for education and training in tourism to support engagement with partners and to recruit more partners to the National Tourism Skills Group. The hope is to continue to approach more professional organizations and institutions and continue to develop the group to discuss, find solutions and deliver training developed from the NTG toolkit. All partners have access to resources and documentation too on a cloud platform. Finding the balance of timely meetings, as initially they were meeting each month, but as the high season approaches, they plan to meet in the Autumn 22.


Maya agreed with Sheena on the importance of mapping out clear objectives that set up the long-term framework for the group, having tangible outputs that are measurable is really important.   Similar to the situation in Wales and across the whole Europe, Bulgarian tourist business owners are struggling to revive their business due to labour shortages and lack of students choosing to study and work in the tourism industry.  Another key objective from the Bulgarian National Skills Partnership is to gain external support especially from public institutions.  The solutions the group are identifying include: supporting the recruitment crisis, changing the image crisis of a tourism career, which both need governmental interventions, marketing campaigns and funding. This is in line with government policy in skills, education and training in tourism.

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