Dubai Cares (part of Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives) and the Belgian government have joined forces in supporting VVOB to make tourism-related courses in Ecuador relevant, ecological and motivational. With a total budget of over 600,000 dollars, the Skilling for Sustainable Tourism project links up secondary schools with the growing travel and tourism sector in Ecuador. “This will not only positively impact these young graduates and their future employers, it will also boost the tourism sector in Ecuador in an eco-friendly way”, says VVOB Programme Manager in Ecuador Caroline Decombel.
Ecuador is a rich country in terms of its people, flora and fauna. Located on the equator, the weather is enjoyable year-round, with hotter days at the beach and cooler nights in the high mountain peaks. No wonder the country’s travel and tourism industry is booming. But while job opportunities in the tourism sector are steadily multiplying, a big part of Ecuador’s youth is unemployed (11.3%) or inadequately employed (53.2%).
The project does not solely focus on training these students in traditional tourism. It also emphasises sustainability, so the industry can develop with respect for the country’s wealth of natural resources.
Teacher development, teaching materials, workplace learning
In practice, we’re turning to 21 secondary schools in the canton of Quito and the province of Manabí that offer tourism-related courses, more specifically the ‘Bachillerato Técnico Ventas e Información Turística’ and the ‘Bachillerato Técnico Servicios Hoteleros’ (freely translated as the course in tourism and the course in hotel services respectively).
The project establishes meaningful collaboration between these schools and the travel and tourism industry in three aspects:
- Professionals from the partner companies – be it big or small hotels or local tour operators all committed to sustainable tourism – train the teachers from the selected schools on-site to enrich their knowledge and skills with the latest trends;
- the partner companies provide teaching materials to the schools;
- and students have the opportunity to complement their theoretical knowledge with practical experience by interning for the partner companies.
This win-win approach ensures the training the secondary students receive is relevant and the companies can hire highly skilled graduates. It is also an approach that VVOB has been developing for years now.
In Ecuador, VVOB works alongside schools and private organisations to align the former’s educational approach to the latter’s needs in so-called RCC projects. ‘RCC’ stands for ‘Relación Colegio-Comunidad’ in Spanish, or ‘School-Community Partnership’ in English. With these projects, VVOB does exactly that: create partnerships between secondary schools offering technical and vocational education and training (TVET) on one side and (local) private businesses on the other. TVET schools with certain specialised courses are matched up with businesses in the same field.
Past and current projects include partnerships in the sectors of electricity, auto mechanics, construction, artificial insemination and so on.
The budget of Skilling for Sustainable Tourism allows for an RCC project unprecedented in scope and depth. The project pilots this approach for sustainable tourism in 21 schools in Manabí and Quito, while simultaneously creating enabling conditions for replication and scaling. There is also an important research component to the project: a cost-benefit analysis and rapid-cycle evaluation inform the approach’s impact and long-term results.
VVOB’s programme manager in Ecuador Caroline Decombel is optimistic about the prospects of this new partnership with Dubai Cares:
“Past experiences in the country have shown that our approach of linking TVET schools with the private sector to provide relevant education opportunities is effective. With the valued support of Dubai Cares, we can further improve this approach, apply it to the field of sustainable tourism and prepare for scaling. We look forward to the graduation of a newly skilled tourism workforce. This will not only positively impact these young graduates and their future employers, it will also boost the tourism sector in Ecuador in an eco-friendly way.”