EU Tourism Skills and Employment with Coronavirus

While Covid-19 has caused much unemployment with lock downs and related economic issues, tourism and hospitality vocational skills are key in developing and driving short term to long term employment for youth and women especially, for broad economic recovery in Europe, Asia and elsewhere.

 

From CEDEFOP The European Centre for Development of Vocational Training:

 

Tourism at a crossroads: skills and jobs demand in the coronavirus era

 

As EU Member States struggle to revive their tourism sectors in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, skills are emerging as the deciding factor for successful economic recovery.

 

Tourism is a key employer of the EU economy. Employing some 13 million people, it contributes to substantial spill-over employment effects in other sectors, especially in construction, retail and healthcare. From 2000 to 2017, more than 1.8 million new jobs were created in the sector.

 

People working in tourism are vulnerable to coronavirus-related challenges and skills development implications. Almost one quarter of them are seasonal and temporary workers. The sector also attracts young workers, acting as a first entry point to the labour market for recent graduates, as well as a response to youth unemployment. It also offers easy employment access to vulnerable groups, such as women (almost two thirds of the workers in the sector), and migrants….

 

EU - tourism - economy - skills

Economic Impact of Tourism (Source: CEDEFOP)

 

….The sector also suffers from negative perceptions regarding working conditions and career prospects. Offering targeted and high-quality training opportunities could be a way to attract more and better-prepared candidates. Reskilling and upskilling of existing employees is necessary to respond to the emerging and persisting new trends in the sector, such as provision of services to targeted groups of visitors (for example, elderly or with disabilities).

 

Understanding the business and societal challenges and opportunities that affect employment levels, occupation tasks and, consequently, skill profiles in tourism is paramount for designing and offering relevant high-quality vocational education and training.

 

Read the full Skills developments and trends in the tourism sector analysis for in-depth information.’

 

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Higher Education – University Funding – Course Delivery Threats

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Presently we see results of neo-liberal policies in education, including higher education and universities having budgets cut, with research, course content and study choices manipulated through favouring STEM over liberal arts of humanities.

 

One does not think it’s a coincidence that seemingly disparate issues and groups, whether focused upon climate science denial, low taxes, immigration restrictions or white nationalism seem influenced by underlying ideology of radical right libertarians joined at the hip with eugenics, wanting to influence education, research and student outcomes.

 

Excerpts from Inside Story Australia:

 

The four-and-a-half-decade higher education squeeze

 

Rodney Tiffen 17 JUNE 2020

 

Calls for universities to reduce their reliance on international students ignore the incentives created by successive governments

 

‘It’s a long time — forty-five years in fact — since government funding of tertiary education peaked in Australia at 1.5 per cent of GDP. These days, the government contributes 0.8 per cent, or just over half that proportion. Back in 1975, around 277,000 students were enrolled in higher education; by 2016, the number had increased fivefold to 1.46 million.

 

Those figures capture the essential story of Australian universities over the past forty-five years: massive growth combined with declining public investment.

 

The suddenness of the Coronavirus pandemic has hit Australian universities very hard, but the acuteness of their problems has been greatly exacerbated by trends that have been building for decades. The federal government has offered much less support to universities than to other deeply affected parts of the economy, and many conservative commentators have used this as yet another occasion to criticise the sector.

 

Backbench Liberal senator James Paterson (graduate of the Koch affiliated IPA), for instance, says that “universities have not done themselves many favours in recent years,” as if reacting to the diminishing level of public support, especially from his own party, has not been a central driver of the strategies for survival universities have had to adopt.

 

Over the period 1989 to 2017, domestic student enrolments more than doubled, according to former Melbourne University vice-chancellor Glyn Davis, yet the federal government’s contribution to operating costs rose only by a third. Between 1995 and 2005, when OECD governments increased their contributions to tertiary education by an average of 49.4 per cent after inflation, the Howard government provided no real increase at all.

 

As Glyn Davis wrote before the pandemic, “By withdrawing public funding, government has deeded Australia a university system that relies heavily on the families of Asia. If our neighbours tire of cross-subsidising Australian students, the number of local places would shrink rapidly.”

 

The pandemic has thrown university budgets into chaos. No other sector so badly affected by the coronavirus has been treated with so little sympathy, let alone tangible support. It seems the government’s cultural antipathy to universities overrides all else…..

 

There has been an ever present battle over universities and education, not just in Australia on funding, nor recently but in the past e.g. Milton Friedman in 1955 essay “The role of government in education” for the minds and wiring of students.  

 

In some places it is normal for fringe right wing parties new to a governing coalition to request seemingly unrelated portfolios of defence, home affairs, and education…..  Control of the latter gives control over curriculum content and the hidden curriculum; Jane Mayer describes (in ‘Dark Money’, as does MacLean ‘Democracy in Chains) the machinations going on in US (and further) by radical right libertarian donors to not just change what people think, but how they think… (or not).

 

Over generations there has been a move to more liberal student versus teacher and authority centred learning, both overtly and via the hidden curriculum.

 

Hence the curriculum is based on freedom, discovery, experience and creativity, as opposed to engaging with a pre-existing body of knowledge to which the teacher is an authoritative and wise guide.

 

(Liberals, Libertarians and Educational Theory – Lindsay Paterson, 2008)

 

MacLean (like Mayer) has also upset the libertarians:

 

Stealth Attack on Liberal Scholar? Historian alleges coordinated criticism of her latest book, which is critical of radical right, from many who have received Koch funding.

 

Collusion, alternative facts, shadowy billionaires: the words sound ripped from the political headlines, but they also describe the controversy surrounding Duke University historian Nancy MacLean’s new book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America (Viking)….

 

…..Some nevertheless say they worry that swarm-style attacks on progressive scholars’ works — especially in an era of online harassment of professors and plummeting public trust in academe — could become a new normal. MacLean, they say, is the victim of just such an effort.

 

But taking advantage of student centred or liberal approaches can go both ways.  Such antipathy towards the humanities and scholarship does not preclude the likes of Kochs promoting their own ideology through funding academic schools’ programs or research, think tanks and lobbying MPs to promote their ideology e.g. George Mason University, many GOP politicians and think tanks (globally) affiliated through their Atlas Network, e.g. IPA Institute of Public Affairs in Australia promotes climate change denialism. (from Crikey Australia).

 

One does not think it’s a coincidence that seemingly disparate issues and groups, whether climate science denial, low taxes, immigration restrictions or white nationalism seem influenced by underlying ideology of radical right libertarians joined at the hip with eugenics, wanting to influence education, research and student outcomes, into the future…..

 

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University Higher Education or VET Vocational Training?

Guardian article has interesting points about the value or not of higher education versus vocational, white collar professionals versus practical or blue collar occupations and front line personnel in let sectors versus invisible managers. Important that career counsellors, teachers, parents, peers and communities are aware so that youth are not compelled or led to expensive higher education for unclear graduate outcomes and careers.

 

Coronavirus is teaching the UK it’s wrong to deride the practical professions

Liz Lightfoot

 

Post-pandemic, we must put vocational courses centre stage and stop favouring academic pupils over those who invent, make or care.

 

When my son was 15 he announced he intended to study law and be a barrister. “Why law?” I asked. “That’s what clever people do,” he replied.

 

He changed his mind, but at universities up and down the land there are students struggling and dropping out of courses because they chose what clever people do, often under pressure from their families to pursue academic, rather than more practical, routes to employment.

 

As the Covid-19 pandemic whips us to our senses, the full extent of our reliance on people who didn’t pursue an academic route has hit us like a hurricane. So this has to be the time, at last, for the UK to put vocational courses and qualifications centre stage. That means recognising them for what they are, not chasing the chimera of parity of esteem with academic ones, as in the past.

 

We don’t need only doctors, lawyers, civil servants, accountants and money analysts. We are crying out for care workers, plumbers, electricians and car mechanics. We applaud manufacturers who change tack to make ventilators and face masks. We are prostrate with gratitude to those keeping some semblance of normality going – the supermarket cashiers, bus and train drivers, and the refuse collectors. Oh, how we miss our hairdressers as we battle to disguise our greying locks.

 

We’re grateful to the farmers who keep producing, the drivers who deliver our online purchases; postal delivery workers; to the cheerful cornershop owner, the bakers, the ICT technicians who can restore our devices.

 

Then there’s a new appreciation of the caring services, social workers, nurses, paramedics and, of course, care workers. Parents, struggling to amuse and home educate their children, are now in awe of the nursery and teaching professions….

 

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Using Government Debt in COVID-19 Crisis

After decades of neo-liberalism, especially the Anglo world, with demands to cut budgets, taxes and government services due to supposed unaffordable and unsustainable government debt, the truth is otherwise. Australia has relatively low government debt of little over 40% of GDP while household debt has become high and possibly unsustainable at more than 120%.

 

However, with the COVID-19 crisis and historically low interest rates, Australia is an excellent position to use debt attractive globally, in supporting the economy, not unlike the GFC period Labor government’s Keynesian money drop which allowed Australia to be less affected than most economies and not going into recession.

 

Following is an excellent article summarising the benefits and countering the supposed negatives of using debt in challenging times.

 

From Inside Story:

 

Before anyone asks: no, Australia does not have a debt problem

 

ADAM TRIGGS

 

30 MARCH 2020

 

And that means government spending is overwhelmingly beneficial in these crisis conditions.

 

Much is uncertain about the Covid-19 crisis, but two things are clear: government debt is about to become much bigger, and there’ll be no shortage of commentators who will say that’s a problem.

 

G20 governments have collectively announced more than $5 trillion in fiscal stimulus, with more to come. The Australian government’s measures, including yesterday’s $130 billion spending package, are broadly in line with other countries. So should we be worried about the consequent growth in government debt?

 

The answer is a clear and resounding no. Whether this new debt is justified depends on the benefit of the increased spending versus the cost of that spending and, in the current environment, the benefit is substantial while the costs are minimal.

 

Fiscal stimulus will avoid the current crisis turning into an economic catastrophe, a fact that appears to be well understood by the public. The lesson from the Great Depression is that my spending is your income, and your spending is my income. If we all stop spending at our local restaurants, the owners and workers in those restaurants lose their income. They spend less in other businesses, which lose their income too, producing a vicious downward spiral that ends in economic collapse. The solution is for the government and Reserve Bank to step in and substantially increase spending and support businesses to fill the gap until the private sector recovers.

 

Failing to expand government significantly would have catastrophic long-term consequences: huge increases in the number of unemployed people (many of whom will never work again), the destruction of thousands of healthy businesses (many of which will never recover), and the permanent destruction of income, wealth and the earning potential of our young people, to say nothing of increased suicides, increased mortality among the very young and very old, increased domestic violence, increased attacks on minority groups, the rise of political extremes and the increased probability of war. The benefits of increased spending are simply enormous.

 

Conversely, the costs of increased government spending are very low. These costs typically come in three forms.

 

The first is the potential for increased government spending to “crowd out” the private sector. When governments run budget deficits they are borrowing money from investors, money which is no longer going to other worthy investments. Increased demand on the limited pool of savings, in normal times, means higher interest rates (which make it more expensive for businesses to invest and households to borrow) and an appreciated exchange rate (making our exports more expensive than those from other countries). The increased government spending stimulates inflation, meaning higher prices for all of us. In normal times, then, increased government spending can hurt businesses, households and individuals.

 

But these are not normal times. Even before Covid-19 the world was awash with savings, which is why interest rates and inflation were so low. The current crisis means even more savings, even less demand for those savings and even lower interest rates and inflation, and an exchange rate that’s less responsive to increased government spending. Put simply, the costs of increased government spending in normal times do not apply.

 

The second potential cost of increased government spending is the future cost of paying interest on that debt. This is minimal in the current environment. The interest rate the Australian government pays on new debt is at its lowest level in history — just 0.8 per cent for money borrowed for ten years. Households and businesses can only dream of being able to borrow that cheaply. This is why it makes perfect sense for the burden of stimulating the economy to be placed on the government since it can borrow so much more easily and cheaply than households or businesses. This is also why it makes no sense to be asking households to access their superannuation (especially given they are already losing their jobs, taking wage cuts and watching their super balances plummet) or asking small businesses to take out loans (whether profit-contingent or otherwise). Stimulus should come from the lowest-cost supplier, and that’s the government.

 

Some might worry whether this increase in debt would mean higher taxes in the future, but there is no reason this needs to be the case. The reason a $10 million debt is a bigger problem for me than it is for Gina Rinehart is the same reason economists look at debt as a percentage of GDP — the denominator matters. The best strategy for reducing debt is to generate economic growth. The maths is simple. If the Australian economy resumes its long-run average growth rate after the current crisis, any increase in debt as a percentage of GDP will halve within twenty years. People would need to start having kids very early in life for this to become an intergenerational debt burden.

 

The third cost of increased government spending is that it can be unsustainable (meaning it can cause problems if that level of spending continues) or can destabilise financial markets. The sustainability of Australia’s current increase in spending is not a concern because it is temporary and doesn’t change the long-run growth rate of debt. Financial stability is not a concern given Australia’s debt is seen as a safe-haven by financial markets: this is why investors are willing to accept pathetically low interest rates for the honour of being able to finance our debt. Even if private investors stopped financing the government’s debt, or charged prohibitively high interest rates to do so, the Reserve Bank would take over that debt, safe in the knowledge that inflation is non-existent and the debt is denominated in our own currency.

 

All of this means that Australia won’t come out of this crisis with a debt problem. The International Monetary Fund ranks Australia’s fiscal position as being in the highest category possible, meaning there is ample room to substantially increase spending. The Australian government could increase debt by three-quarters of a trillion dollars — far more than anyone is suggesting — and still have less debt as a percentage of our economy than the average among its G20 peers.

 

Sadly, this will not prevent a flood of commentators and politicians in the coming months warning of an impending debt crisis in Australia. As soon as the health crisis shows the faintest sign of abating, or perhaps even before then, the government will face tremendous political pressure to cut spending and pay down debt. It is no doubt already facing calls to limit stimulus out of fears of future debt. To protect the living standards of Australians, it must withstand this deeply misguided advice.’

 

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E-Learning for University Students in Africa

E-learning maybe the solution for increased affordable access to effective education across the world as an organic extension of distance learning, open university and on campus study using ‘FLIPPED learning model’, dependent upon digital resources and communication.

Parts of Africa, and the world, can use e-learning for access.

African University Study via E-Learning (Image copyright Pexels)

For many parts of Africa it is a solution to limited or no access, from Deutsche Welle:

The importance of studying at home for a degree: E-learning in Africa

Many young Africans dream of a higher education. But they often don’t have the means: colleges are often far away and accommodation is expensive. Online universities and e-learning may provide a viable solution.

Lectures with compulsory attendance were not an option for Alida Tapsoba. The 29-year-old from Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, has to earn a living and therefore needs to be in control of when she works and when she studies. With this in mind, she decided to take an online course. “But I was also afraid. I wasn’t sure if I could do it,” the journalism student told DW. “You have to be well organized to deliver the assignments on time — especially if you work extra hours.”

Alida Tapsoba said her choice is rather expensive. She spends a lot of money on internet access. She needs to download large files, which is time-consuming and costly. Rebecca Stromeyer knows the problem well. She said that in many African countries, internet access is considerably more expensive than in Germany. Stromeyer is the founder of e-Learning Africa, an annual conference which attracts experts in the field to network and exchange information in a pan-African context.

No digital infrastructure

Internet access varies much across the continent. “Kenya is a pioneer, even in rural areas,” said Stromeyer. In the Central African Republic, by contrast, only a few people can accesss the internet. “Conditions are not yet so ideal that everyone in Africa can complete an e-learning program,” said Stromeyer. She adds that governments need put more efforts into developing the infrastructure.

“Nevertheless, the need to develop e-learning was much stronger in Africa than in Europe,” said the communications technology expert. And it is not restricted to university studies. The school system often does not work, especially in rural areas. There is a lack of teachers and textbooks. Stromeyer advocates using the internet for education in schools as well, although she believes that students learn better at school than they do online.

Flexible and individual

Tony Carr, from the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, begs to differ: “Sitting in a lecture hall with 600 other students is much like taking a degree by correspondence. Online interactions can be much warmer and personal. They can bring students closer together than a course requiring attendance.”

Flexibility is another advantage. Young people can also save on accommodation costs by staying at home and not having to rent a room in another city. They can tailor their studies to fit their needs, focus on the skills they believe to be most important and take courses they would not otherwise have access to.

Alida Tapsoba is a case in point. She dreams of working abroad as a journalist. She could not find the master’s course she was looking for in her home town. But a renowned journalism school in Paris had just what she wanted.

South Africa’s pioneers

The University of South Africa (UNISA) pioneered distance learning on the continent. When it was founded in the 1940s it offered only degrees by correspondence. Today, it is on its way to full digitalization. By its own account, it is Africa’s largest distance learning institution.

Tony Carr refers to a research paper into online studies in Africa, which compared different countries between 2011 and 2016. It showed that South Africa was the pioneer in e-learning, followed by Angola, Nigeria and Tunisia. According to Carr, this growth goes hand in hand with internet access, income levels and the increase of the middle class in the countries mentioned.

Generally speaking, Anglophone countries lead the field, Stromeyer said. But there is a growing number of initiatives in French-speaking West Africa. Ivory Coast founded the state-run Universite Virtuelle de Cote d’Ivoire four years ago. “An outstanding institution,” said Stromeyer. “It had the advantage of being able to learn from the mistakes of others.”

High demand in African countries

Many employers still believe that online studies are worth less than degrees that require a physical presence. “They believe that the courses are shorter and that less content is conveyed,” said Stromeyer. “This is not true. The need for e-learning is great in Africa, where an above-average number of young people live. Traditional universities and student accommodation are often overcrowded.” Stromeyer recommended a mixture of online and attendance studies, since young people also have the need to socialize and be part of a community.

The main thing is to gather in-depth information about online courses and providers, Tony Carr pointed out. An online university can be located anywhere, and can circumvent the national accreditation system. Experts recommend asking precisely which degree can be obtained and whether it is recognized in your own country or abroad.

 

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