TouriSME Comp– Self-Responsible Learning of Key Competences in Tourism SME - A Mean to improve Competitiveness and Employment


Problem Situation

The promotion of successful entrepreneurship in small and medium enterprises in tourism is a key priority of European policy. Also in many countries tourism is a priority, as this sector has a high potential for growth and employment.

However, often the quality of services provided, lags behind the needs and demands of customers. Therefore a more considerate and systematic effort to improve the quality of tourism MsE needs to be made.

Quality improvements can only be made when adequate staff is available.

Only if this staff is productive enough, income opportunities in the tourism sector will increase and additional staff can be attracted on a sustainable basis.

Currently a large part of the tourism SME staff consists of low-skilled workers, part-time workers and sometimes migrants without fully adequate competences. often companies do not invest in these employees. Adapting tourism activity to globalization and new market demands however requires additional efforts to improve the professional skills like IT, meeting customer expectations, flexibility and responsiveness.

The acquisition of professional skills relies on the creation of “learnability”, i.e., the ability to learn. The eight key competencies for lifelong learning (EC (Recommendation 2006/962/EC) give a framework of the necessary competences to acquire.

Acquisition of these key competencies will make employees more productive in itself, but is also a prerequisite for further, more formal training.

For low qualified workers, the tourism sector traditional is a sector that provides an opportunity to enter the labor market. Making the step from low paid, unskilled, temporary, precarious work to a full and productive professional profile, adequate to support the individual and its family, however depends on providing sufficient learning opportunities at the workplace.

The actual workplace is the most important and conductive place to learn, particularly for workers with low educational attainment and learning inhibitions in a formal learning environment.

Learning opportunities at the workplace depend on the owners and managers of tourism SMEs. Only if these are able to develop and implement strategies of workplace learning, the workplace can be a conductive place of building competences.

What did the project do?

In order to fill that role tourism SME managers need support from “facilitators” (consultants specializing in guiding and supporting learners) specialized in supporting the creation of flexible and economic learning pathways for low-qualified workers in the tourism industry.

Therefore it was the aim of the project to qualify 20 specialist learning facilitators to work with 100 hotel and restaurant owners and managers on providing adequate learning pathways for low-skilled employees in the hotel and restaurant industry. The project reached out to at least 500 low-skilled employees of tourism SME. The training material for facilitators, tourism SME owners and employees was made accessible in an online open educational resource.

This way the project contributed to the productivity of this industry, particularly the productivity of SMEs, and enhanced the learning and employment opportunities of weaker groups in the labor market.

A closer cooperation between all relevant actors, more competent tourism SMEs with higher productivity and quality-based competitiveness and thus a positive contribution to the economic development of the region. For (potential) low-skilled employees employment stability increased as did chances for mobility and further learning. This made a contribution to the reduction of labor market and social problems, mostly among vulnerable groups.

Target group

Three target groups were directly addressed by the project: consultants, tourism SME mangers and tourism SME low-skilled employees.

How was the project useful to the target group?

Consultants from training and consultancy providers working with SMEs in the tourism sector were able to adapt much more to the real and defined learning needs of tourism SMEs and their employees.

SME managers of the tourism sector were able to complement short-term business considerations with a more mid- and long-term staff development strategy, aimed at the key competences of their employees, as the prerequisite of flexibility, employability and “learnability.”

Low-skilled workers of SMEs in tourism who need basic skills development were able to profit from new learning and development opportunities, a more competency-based work organization and more job security through higher productivity. This gave them a better chance to maintain the present employment but also (in the sense of flexicurity) of better chances in the labor market through higher qualification but also a more active and competent general habitus.

What was ISOB’s role?

In the project ISOB GmbH was responsible for the coordination of the initial needs analysis. It advised and supported the leaders of the production of the other tangible outputs, such as the creation of content of the guidelines and the general training concept.

ISOB also supported the quality assurance within the project and helped to collect user feedback.

Project Partners

Romania:          Fundatia pentru Promovarea Intreprinderilor Mici si Mijlocii Brasov, Promoter

                        The Foundation for promoting small and medium-sized enterprises

Croatia:             Supera poslovno upravljanje d.o.o., Zagreb

Germany:          ISOB Institut für Sozialwissenschaftliche Beratung GmbH, Regensburg

Portugal:           Associação Empresarial Viana do Castelo, Viana do Castelo

                        Fundação de Ensino Profissional da Praia da Vitória, Praia da Vitória                     

Turkey:             Gazi University, Ankara


Alexander Krauß: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Duration of the Project: 01. December 2014 - 30. November 2016


Project results:


The project was funded by the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme Erasmus Plus-Strategic Partnerships for vocational education and training.