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European Commission looks to create jobs in hospitality and tourism sectors with ‘skills passport’

A new initiative from the European Commission aims to support labour mobility in the hospitality and tourism sector, which has seen higher than average job growth, writes Harald Wiedenhofer.

The European Hospitality Skills Passport will give hospitality industry employers access to a talent pool of skilled workers across Europe, supporting the labour market in an industry that saw its workforce expand by 2.9% per year in 2000-2010, compared to average job growth of 0.7%.

In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, youth unemployment has been a particularly acute problem in Europe. In April 2014, 5.26 million young people (under 25) were unemployed in the EU28, with an overall youth unemployment rate of 22.5%. By increasing flexibility in the hospitality sector, which traditionally employs a high number of young people, this initiative forms part of the European Commission’s strategy to provide young professionals in Europe with a foothold on the labour market.

The European Hospitality Skills Passport has been developed by the European Commission in association with social partners in the hospitality sector such as EFFAT, the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions, and HOTREC, the umbrella association representing hotels, restaurants, cafés and similar establishments in Europe.

Kent Nyström, President of our social partner, HOTREC, called the Skills Passport “an essential tool to foster youth employment in the EU,” adding that it would greatly support young Europeans in promoting their work experience and language skills across the European Union.

EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor stressed this aspect of the initiative. Calling the Skills Passport a good example of what social dialogue at European level can achieve, he said that the Skills Passport “is an important practical tool to promote mobility of European workers, especially young people, within a sector that has high potential for growth.”

The idea behind the Skills Passport is that it will allow hospitality and tourism sector workers to record all the formal and informal skills that they have acquired during their education and previous work experience in a format that is easily accessible to employers. The new tool is multilingual, with the Skills Passport being generated in all EU languages. This breaks down language barriers that might otherwise stand between an employer and a jobseeker with the exact skillset required to fill a position.

This innovative tool will not only enable hospitality workers in Europe to document all the skills that they have acquired in education, vocational training and on the job but, perhaps more importantly, to get those skills recognised.

The Skills Passport brings benefits to both parties in the job search equation. For jobseekers, it allows them to take advantage of European mobility by presenting their skills and competences to potential employers regardless of their country or language. For employers, it allows them to quickly find employees with the right skills regardless of where they are located.

To promote the launch of the Skills Passport, EFFAT, together with the European Commission, HOTREC and the European Job Mobility Portal EURES are organising a European Hospitality Skills Passport Thematic Week from 23-27 June 2014. This event, which will be held across the partners’ social media accounts, aims to engage with jobseekers and employers in the hospitality and tourism sector throughout Europe to introduce them to the features of this new labour mobility tool and to encourage them to use it.

The Hospitality Skills Passport is the first in a series of passports aimed at promoting mobility on the European labour market. This initiative will see the European Commission continue to work with its partners to expand the European Skills Passport tool to other high-mobility sectors of the European economy, such as the agriculture and food sectors.

Harald Wiedenhofer is general secretary of the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions 

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