Tourism is an important economic driver in Vietnam, one that currently employs close to two million workers and contributes 10% to national GDP. With the right skill set, workers in the tourism sector have the potential to earn wages that are double the national average.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of young graduates are underqualified and do not have the relevant practical skills it takes to access decent employment. The Uniterra program has worked with several tourism schools to reinforce and/or set up a model for on-campus businesses. On-campus cafes, restaurants and hotels provide excellent opportunities for students to gain real-life trade skills and business experiences.
Poor access to quality training for students
About 18,000 youth graduate from 284 tourism training schools in Vietnam every year. However, employers typically find graduates’ skills to be less than adequate. The gaps in both technical skills and business experience result directly from a nationally standardized training curriculum that is too heavily focused on theory at the expense of practical application. By not gaining access to relevant skills training, young graduates from tourism training schools usually have to resort to low-paying, unstable jobs. Meanwhile, employers have to spend expensive resources on recruitment and retraining, and customer satisfaction also suffers.
Experiential learning through on-campus businesses
The establishment of on-campus service-oriented businesses is an effective way to provide a training ground for students to develop technical skills, gain business experience, and become familiar with certain equipment. The actual establishment and operation of these practice facilities require skills, knowledge and experience that could be hard to find among local schools and educators. Very few schools own their own restaurant or café, and the ones with such a facility, usually run it more like a canteen rather than a proper business with a training purpose. Based on the partners’ needs and available resources, Uniterra volunteers supported the establishment of on-campus businesses from scratch, or the refurbishment of existing facilities in order to expand the customer base, generate greater revenues, and increase opportunities for practice for students.
- The establishment of an on-campus café-restaurant at Binh Thuan Community College (BTCC) in Phan Thiet City, which was inaugurated in early 2018. The restaurant was established by the Canadian-funded Vietnam Skills for Employment project. It provides a training ground for approximately 150 students on an annual basis.
Pan Thiet is a world-famous tourist destination, but due to lack of access to relevant skills-training programs that would enable employment in local resorts and hotels, many young workers migrate to Ho Chi Minh City – the country’s biggest economic hub that is only a four-hour drive away. With its prime location in Phan Thiet City, BTCC has the potential to develop and provide students with high-quality tourism and hospitality training programs, preparing them for employment in local resorts and hotels.
- The overhaul of an existing café-restaurant at the Saigontourist Hospitality College.
Initially geared towards an internal customer base of staff and students, the café has been refurbished, renovated, and promoted locally. The menu has been diversified, with customer growth reaching approximately 30% this year, providing students with more opportunities to practice their skills. The school’s Food & Beverage program enrolls about 500 students annually, many of whom will be interning at this facility as their first on-the-job training experience.
Scale-up, Replication, Sustainability and Innovation
A growing number of tourism schools in Vietnam are developing service-oriented cafés, restaurants, and bakeries on their campuses, including those that are partners of Uniterra and those that are not. We believe our work, particularly with flagship schools such as Saigontourist College, has helped inspire other training institutions to replicate the model.
|The results of this project contribute to: SDG: 1 – No Poverty, SDG: 4 – Quality Education and SDG: 8 – Decent work and Economic Growth.
About the Uniterra Program
Uniterra is a Canadian volunteer cooperation and international development program that is jointly operated by WUSC and CECI (Centre for International Studies and Cooperation). The program supports inclusive economic development to benefit women and youth in 14 countries across Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Uniterra works with key private, public, and civil society partners to facilitate growth and change in markets that have the greatest impact on marginalized people.
About the volunteers involved in this initiative
Lynn Tremblay worked with her local counterparts to oversee the establishment of their first ever on-campus business at Binh Thuan Community College. Building on the work of a previous corporate volunteer designer, Lynn assisted with, and supervised the process of construction planning, material selection, and equipment purchase.
Harold Mainguy worked closely with his counterpart to overhaul an existing café-restaurant at the Saigontourist Hospitality College.
Find the volunteer opportunity that’s right for you! See all current opportunities at wusc.ca/volunteer.