7th ‘lab of tomorrow’ process: More and better skilled staff for the Egyptian tourism sector: ”think big – start small”

5-8 February 2018 in Hurghada, Egypt: 49 representatives of the public and private sector gather for a 4-day innovation workshop at TUI Magic Life Kalawy resort – a fitting place to co-create business solutions on how to improve the quality and quantity of skilled personnel for the Egyptian tourism sector. For the first time the lab of tomorrow innovation workshop was hold directly in the partner country of German development cooperation. The commitment of strong partners TUI Group and three GIZ projects from Egypt commissioned by BMZ, contributed to efficient workshop conditions.

Tourism – Importance and potential for Egypt’s economy

The tourism industry is one of the major sectors of Egypt’s economy: In 2017, it contributed 11.0% of GDP and 8.5% of total employment, with rising tendency. In view of the recession during the recent years, the government remains determined for the sector to retain its position as a key driver of the economy and aims to increase tourism flows to reach 20 million by 2020. To meet the future market needs, the tourism sector is required to double the number of its employees and improve their qualifications. Consequently, there is an urgent need for more and up to date capacity building measures in the Egyptian tourism sector.

Pulling on the same rope

Vocational education and training across all sectors is of high priority for Egypt’s government, since the lack of qualified staff is a crucial obstacle for the development of the Egyptian economy. Ministries and companies alike are willing to invest in demand-driven offers of education and training for Egyptian workers, which was mirrored by the diversity and the high engagement of the participants of the four-day innovation workshop in Hurghada. The stakeholders were grouped into six teams, among them certification experts such as TÜV NORD Egypt and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, leading e-learning and gamification providers, for example IMC and Cegos, social business platforms like AfricaWorks and local NGOs, for example Alshanek ya Balady Association for Sustainable Development. Furthermore, international organizations like the International Labour Organization and local associations, among them the Egyptian Tourism Federation participated. Leading hotel brands such as Labranda Hotels & Resorts and Orascom Hotel Management provided hands-on input regarding the current and future challenges.

Several TUI divisions, including TUI Hotels & Resorts, TUI Care Foundation and Steigenberger Hotels & Resorts, led the working groups along with the three GIZ projects “Enhancement of the Egyptian Dual System”, “Employment Promotion Project” and “Labour Market Access Programme”. The teams focused on six sub-challenges and developed possible solutions in terms of sustainable business models addressing ‘management training’, ‘on-the-job training/practical training’, ‘pre-job training’, ‘job quality’, ‘re-integration’ and ‘diversity & inclusion’.

Mr. Sebastian Lesch, Head of German Development Cooperation in Egypt at the German Embassy Cairo, outlined Germany’s focus when working with Egyptian partners in development cooperation, which is “long term stability, meaning economic opportunities for the many young people in Egypt, meaning jobs, meaning political participation”. With regards to the ambitious aim of the lab of tomorrow approach to translate challenges in emerging economies into business models, which “sound like the impossible” he expressed that he was very optimistic considering all what was being created.

Ms. Jane Ashton, Head of TUI Care Foundation, reconfirmed the company’s ownership and visionary collaborative commitment for future generations’ economic prospects in tourism. She was impressed by the detail and robustness of the co-creative processes of the lab of tomorrow approach concluding that it couldn’t be named more accurately.

The prototypes

One of the seven prototypes is ’Upstrim’, which was developed by the team ‘management staff training’ and it offers an integrated training system for upper and middle management in hard and soft skills, aiming to modernize management training in order to meet future challenges in the Egyptian hospitality sector. The core idea of the training system is a mentoring program that transforms experienced managers in their last professional years into mentors for the trainees of ’Upstrim’ to plan their career path and set-up an individual training program.

The team ‘diversity & inclusion’ is working on ’Knowledge Tournaments for Jobs in Tourism’, which is an innovative business case that combines an educational online platform for engaging mobile multiplayer tournaments with attractive prizes as a reward for learning achievements. Targeting students in vocational schools and unemployed youth, the multifaceted program also offers training sessions and practical career guidance, and thereby guides them step-by-step into the working world.

The ’Hospitality Passport’ is a business idea developed by the team ‘pre-job training’. It provides a system of exchange and fosters cooperation between private sector (in-company trainers) and schools (teachers) within the dual Technical and Vocational Education Training system to fulfill the market needs for qualified staff. This new train-the-trainer concept by the team ‘pre-job training’ assures that both target groups are always up-to-date and adapt to market needs in order to prove a high quality education for future workforce in the tourism sector.

„Think big, start small“

Referring to the creative process that the lab of tomorrow experience brings about, Mr. Patrick Gayer of TUI Destination Services says “We have to think big, but start small”. His statement describes the next steps that lie ahead of the working groups quite well. With the bigger concept and vision in mind, the working groups start into the lab of tomorrow test phase in spring 2018. They have the chance to further develop the concepts and verify the utility of their business models. As a result, the proof of feasibility qualifies for a subsequent pilot phase where the business models are going to be implemented on a small scale in the Egyptian tourism sector.