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The practical use of the NTG Sector Skills Toolkit: an innovative tool to support skills development

The purpose of Module 2 during the final NTG Conference was to explain the practical use of the NTG Sector Skills Toolkit and its flexibility and adaptability for updating and refreshing skill sets in education and industry training contexts. The presentations and panel discussions demonstrated how it is an innovative tool to support skills development and quality skills standards within the tourism education landscape.

 

The panel comprised of:

  • Dr Sheena Carlisle, Senior Lecturer in International Tourism Management, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Wales, UK;
  • Dr Daniel Tromans, Senior Leader at Qualifications Wales, the quality assurance agency and regulator of all non-degree qualifications in Wales
  • Julie Mullane, Lecturer based in the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management in the Technological University of Dublin
  • Irina Petkova, Lecturer in International Hospitality Management, International Business Management, and International Tourism Management at Varna University of Management, Bulgaria.

 

Dr Sheena Carlisle introduced the key aspects of the quality skill standards framework and the types of organisations which can support the upskilling and reskilling of employees and students and the key mechanisms to support this process.  Sheena also introduced the key parts of the comprehensive NTG Sector Skills Toolkit, which form an important element of the Blueprint Strategy for Digital and Sustainability Skills.

 

Irina Petkova from Varna University gave a detailed overview of the dissemination of the NTG Sector Skills Toolkit a range of popular stakeholder dissemination events organised by the university, including representatives from the five core sub-sectors of tourism of NTG, Career Advice centres and different tourism and hospitality departments of universities and VET institutions in the Varna and Sophia region.  Varna held workshops with the Black Sea business forum via the establishment of their National Tourism Skills Partnership.  They worked closely with career centres that tested

the mapping templates and the skill matrix to support the identification of core digital and sustainability skills.

 

Feedback on the Tourism Sector Skills Toolkit from Bulgaria

Feedback from partners in Bulgaria was positive, for example they liked the functionality of the skills mapping tool and how it grouped and identified skills.  The session plans for curriculum development received positive feedback as user-friendly.  Private trainers and educational providers hope to develop new lessons and include the training materials in their training sessions. The fact that the toolkit is open access received positive feedback from industry as it will support the development of their own training materials programs and curriculum development.  The mapping tools and checklists supported human resources management departments to enhance employability skills.

 

The challenges identified during these dissemination activities and events was first the need to translate the English language to Bulgarian which would secure stronger engagement.   Additionally updating the sessional plans with new and different training content, as well as guidance documents on different learning styles where more visuals and videos are needed.  As the tourism industry is a fast changing environment it means the educational tools require updating to respond and identify to  the skills gap , especially with a tailored context to the Bulgarian cultural context.  Varna university is planning a training session with industry partners session in social skills in September 2022.

 

Feedback on the Tourism Sector Skills Toolkit from Qualification Wales

Dr. Dan Troman delivered feedback on how Qualification Wales (QW) applied the mapping tools and templates during the Tourism and Hospitality Sector qualifications review.  QW have taken quite a different approach compared to other nations of the United Kingdom when evaluating vocational sectors as they have been conducting a sector-by-sector review approach over the last five to six years.  The travel and tourism and hospitality and catering sector is the fifth sector reviewed.  Before this, they had analysed the health and social care and childcare sectors, the construction sector engineering, and digital technology.   A range of issues and challenges are uncovered during a sector review related to the content and delivery of qualifications, resulting in different actions being taken with awarding bodies to develop and deliver qualifications in Wales. The reviews ensure that every vocational sector has a fit-for-purpose set of qualifications and at all levels to support progression into further learning or employment.

 

The review included qualifications analysis both here in Wales and globally– i.e. Scotland, Republic of Ireland, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

 

QW applied the Sector Skills toolkit mapping template to assess the green, social, and digital skills and any related gaps and evaluated what already was provided.  They identified gaps in green and digital curricula and established what the sector needed. Another key element of the sector review was to engage with learners to gain feedback from learners in schools, further education in colleges and from work-based learners. They applied the knowledge gained from the NTG toolkit training resources during these feedback sessions. Additionally, they applied the NTG skills mapping template in the technical review of the most highly used tourism and hospitality qualifications in Wales. They assessed the skills, knowledge, and competencies.   Qualification Wales undertook significant stakeholder engagement including different public, private bodies, employers, and educators by bringing all those different representatives together into a stakeholder advisory group to support an effective collaboration journey.  They discussed qualifications and listened to stakeholder feedback.  Dr Sheena Carlisle was a key member of this stakeholder advisory group, representing the NTG project.

 

QW implemented an online questionnaire asking key questions to stakeholders about the qualifications available from Level 1-Level 3.  The questionnaire helped gain further insight into content and training needs for the future.  Key findings included: From a school’s perspective there was an unclear purpose of a lot of tourism and hospitality qualifications and lacked a Welsh perspective and Welsh tourism context; FE colleges lacked content that could support the green, social and digital agenda to support legislation of the Well-being of Future Generations Act in Wales. The NTG toolkit can also support renewal of outdated content. Due to the Covid-10 pandemic the need for these skills within qualifications have become greater for the hospitality and tourism sector; Awareness of things like seasonality, food origin, supply and demand, eco-tourism and development of work-based learning is considered important area of knowledge and development of attributes of skills.  QW will publish their findings in January 2023 with recommendations to help progression of learners into employment.  The NTG toolkit would be key to this enhancement of qualifications, keeping qualifications fresh and up to date and regularly reviewed.

 

Feedback on the Tourism Sector Skills Toolkit from Technological University Dublin

Julie Mullane at TU Dublin presented a unique case study on how a transferable skills module, to support the Work Placement module as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which was developed using the NTG Sector Skills Toolkit Social Skills training resources and session plans within the School of Hospitality Management and Tourism during the academic year 2020/2021.   Due to the Covid-19 pandemic students were unable to undertake their work placements.   At TU Dublin the professional industry placement is an important component, so this module helped them to demonstrate their transferable skills to employers.  It was fundamental that the learning experience for students wasn’t lost in the development of this module and what the school did was develop a range of options for students to choose from.   Some students secured placements during that time and some students chose and to engage with project-based work and other students chose the employment skills option.  The employment skills option comprised of several modules and the transferable skills module sat within that option and was also supported by colleagues who delivered industry seminars modules and a module on wellness so together as an option, these modules presented quite a unique and dynamic option for students to take and quite a good response and from the school’s perspective as well in terms of a response to the challenges and presented by Covid 19.

 

The challenge was to develop a module in such a way that it not only satisfied these needs and requirements for core learning outcomes but also provided a real opportunity for formative development via active participation in the student experience and active engagement with the module activities.  Discussion boards and teamwork were important and reflective learning. The module had to be relevant and engaging across undergraduate hospitality, tourism, and event programs. The NTG Sector Skills Toolkit enabled the team to work in collaboration and combine a range of resources to develop skills that could be used throughout graduate careers and for their own personal development.   Two core assessment components included a group portfolio and an individual reflective journal to utilize the students’ own transferable skills by engagement with the assessment but also inquiring into and development of other skills which they lack or areas the students wanted to develop themselves.

 

The toolkit provided key lesson plans and learning outcomes which helped as TUDublin had a limited amount of time to produce training materials under the pressure of the changing circumstances of learning during the pandemic. TUDublin will be using the toolkit in other modules in the next academic year 22/23.

 

In summary it was concluded in the panel discussion that refreshing and updating digital, environmental and social skills needed to be done much more often so that educational materials can respond to the needs of business.  Vocational centres and vocational schools should have the freedom to adapt the learning in accordance with standards and be able to reflect the transient nature of tourism introducing new skill sets and competencies into industry training or formal qualifications.  Awarding organizations can respond by creating additional recognition qualifications and create micro-credentials like digital badging schemes which are short sharp bite-sized pieces of additional skills and development that can be delivered to individuals move into a different role or a different job and pick up those additional skills needed.

The mapping approach that NTG has developed has helped to review knowledge, competencies and skills for such updating processes.

Find all the materials here.

 

Watch the full conversation on YouTube:

 

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