Tourism Academy – Employing Underprivileged Youth in Tourism & Hospitality

Incitement is the implementing agency for the Volunteering International Professionals (VIP) Fellowship Programme 2017, a National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) project monitored and overseen by the National Strategy Unit (NSU) of the Malaysian Ministry of Finance. More information about this collaboration between Incitement and the Malaysian Ministry of Finance can be found here.

The VIP Fellowship programme took place from August 19th till December 17th 2017. During these 4 months, a total of 10 social impact projects were implemented with the help of 50 international professional volunteers, touching the lives of 12,840 beneficiaries.

This is Impact Project 8: Tourism Academy
This project offers a 2-week full time training programme, equipping underprivileged youth with the skills needed to pursue jobs in the Tourism & Hospitality sector.

Project location: Battambang, Cambodia
Host organisation: Human Resource Development & Language Institute (HDFL)
Impact area: Youth Empowerment
Website: facebook.com/hdlfcambodia


Key project outcomes

  • 40 students found employment after successfully completing the programme
  • 4 teachers received training to ensure the programme’s continuity
  • 6 modules were created
  • 22 partnerships with relevant organisations were established
  • 2 government partnerships were established

The beneficiaries of Tourism Academy are youth from the countryside in Battambang, usually aged around 16-19 years, coming from families of rice farmers. Their parents are often poor and struggle to pay for college or university tuition. As a result, they drop out of school and also, lack the skills needed to pursue any kind of job, forcing the youth into a life of crime, drugs, and further poverty. In many cases, this ultimately leads to a lifetime of unemployment and nancial struggle for the youth and their families.

The VIP Fellows for this project set out to create sustainable solutions for the Host organisation’s most pressing problems:

  • Poor job connection between youth and local employers.
  • No career support service in Battambang causing fresh graduates to struggle to find suitable career paths.
  • The lack of cooperation between local bene ciaries such as NGOs, employers, government bodies and universities.
  • The lack of resources of the Host organisation to build training modules that equip fresh graduates with motivation and much needed skills, such as computer profiiency and career skills.

Interested in participating in impact projects like Grow Tall as a volunteer? Sign up for Incitement’s volunteering team and you’re the first to know about the coolest, most impactful social projects.

Tourism Academy’s mission is to develop a programme for newly graduated students from secondary school, that equips them with the skills needed to pursue jobs in the tourism and hospitality sector, as well as to build and nurture new partnerships with local beneficiaries such as employers, NGOs, universities, and local government bodies. However, it lacked the resources to successfully do this.

First, it was missing the crucial experience and knowledge from the tourism industry that was necessary to develop training modules which were relevant to the needs of the employers. Second, it lacked the manpower to focus on building the training modules, while building new relationships and nurturing existing ones – which were crucial to the project’s sustainability. The VIP 2017 Programme bridged these gaps in the Host organisation. Although the project initially focused on Siem Reap and Phnom Penh as target areas, the Fellows decided to only target Battambang upon discovering that this area lacked proper career services.

Tourism Academy’s latest training programme, created by the VIP 2017 Fellows, is a holistic two-week full-time course where graduates of secondary school are taught much needed employability skills. The Fellows designed modules to address the gap in the youths’ skills, such as how to create a resume, how to search for jobs and how to be successful in interviews with potential employers. Furthermore, the students received a speed course in tourism and hospitality, where they were taught the basics of working in the hospitality sector, so they gained the experience needed to get and stay hired. Other than career skills, the students also learned valuable life skills through workshops and games that were designed by the Fellows to improve their con dence and self-esteem.

The simple fact that the VIP Fellows helped local youths to start believing in themselves and believing that a career they love was now within reach, had a great impact on not just their own lives, but their entire community. Now, the local youth are able to get jobs and take care of themselves and their families. They are able to continue their studies at tertiary level in Battambang and can pay for the tuition fee themselves. They learn about the value of money and do not have to rely on their families for financial support. Moreover, they have the opportunity to break free from the cycle of poverty that their rice farming parents have always been in, and are empowered to take their future into their own hands.

They start to believe that it is possible to become anybody and have a challenging career doing a job they love. That is the belief that we are trying to instil: You can be anybody!

VIP 2017 - Tourism Academy

“Two months into the VIP 2017 Programme and 25 students already had their first job. It’s life changing”, says Bella, an International Fellow from Ireland. “They are so much more confident now that they have found a goal in their lives. Before, they didn’t really believe or understand that they could be, for example, managers or teachers. Now, they really believe that it is possible to become anybody and have a challenging career doing a job they love. That is the belief that we are trying to instil: You can be anybody!”

Raksa, a 12th grade student from HDLF, comes from the countryside, which makes it very dif cult for her to nd a job. She recently completed the Tourism Academy programme, where she learned how to search and apply for jobs, how to do interviews, and how to speak with customers and guests. Now, she has a job that she is proud of and loves.

Sothy, a local employer who owns a hotel in Battambang, acknowledges that it is really hard to get qualified staff in Battambang. English communication skills and computer skills are often a barrier, and most youth just do not have the experience that is required to be able to work in a restaurant or hotel. “Even when we find someone who is qualified, they leave very easily if something is not to their liking. Thanks to Tourism Academy, I now have two staff members working weekends in my hotel. A big plus for me is that I am able to properly communicate with them. Not only are they able to manage the English language well, they are also able to handle critique and I can be really straightforward with them. They have disciplined work ethics and we can have professional conversations, which is very important.”

They are now able to support their families through their own jobs, which is a great improvement in their lives as well as for the community.

VIP 2017 - Tourism Academy

Phaerun, a local Cambodian Fellow and teacher at the school, believes that this project is so important for the community. Youth from the countryside are really shy and do not have the confidence to look for jobs. This project provides them the skills, motivation and confidence they need to go out and get employment to support their further education. The nature of the training is holistic and well thought out. The intensive training equips the youth with skills to go through interviews and get employed, the hard and soft skills to remain employed, and also the financial literacy to manage their earnings wisely. “In fact, they are able to support their families through their own jobs, which is a great improvement in their lives as well as for the community.”

During the VIP 2017 Programme, the Fellows succeeded in accomplishing their mission to create a holistic two-week training course that equips youth with the skills needed to pursue jobs in the Tourism & Hospitality sector. They also built 33 new partnerships with local employers (17 hotels and 16 restaurants) and 6 partnerships with local NGOs. By the end of the VIP 2017 Programme, 56 students successfully completed Tourism Academy’s two-week programme and found employment soon after.

Other than that, the Fellows also trained the teachers of the HDLF school on how to teach the modules created by the Fellows. This way, the project’s sustainability and continuity was guaranteed. Ultimately, the Fellows were able to create a scalable and replicable model for accessible and sustainable employment for underprivileged youth, while greatly improving local awareness around HDLF and Tourism Academy.

VIP 2017 - Tourism Academy

Learn more about the VIP 2017 Fellowship Programme: VIP.org.my

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