“PRO-YOUTH: strategic cooperation for more efficient international work-based learning schemes in the field of heritage tourism” is an Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership running between October 2018 and March 2021.
Several regions in Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy and Romania are facing the same societal challenges: brain drain and emigration from rural areas towards the cities leading to population decline. At the same time, unemployment rates are high among those who stay, particularly young people. However, employers struggle to find qualified candidates with the right skills. PRO-YOUTH aims to tackle youth unemployment and brain drain by providing work-based education, inspired by the successful German model. Work-based experiences have been proved to be leading to employment even in countries with high unemployment rates.
The project focuses on the field of cultural and heritage tourism, a sector with high development potential in the participating countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy and Romania). Heritage-related training in these countries is possible mainly on a tertiary level, often with a highly theoretical focus. The innovative aspect of PRO-YOUTH lies in its methodology, pointing out that there are several skills and competencies related to cultural and heritage tourism that can be acquired through short-term on-the job training that would enhance the employability of NEETs such as:
understanding how to promote cultural venues,
identification of sites of cultural interest,
contributing to the care of cultural venue premises,
guiding tours of cultural premises (storytelling principles),
understanding the principles of customer service delivery at heritage sites,
providing customer service to visitors in a cultural venue,
intercultural understanding and communication.
PRO-YOUTH will implement work-based-learning methods in participating countries in synergy with existing initiatives to lower youth unemployment rates (such as the relevant Youth Guarantee Initiative). The experience exchange and know-how transfer between partners is key. Project partners will learn from each other’s various expertise, sharing approaches and valuable knowledge on different phases of project implementation.
If the capacities of the relevant multipliers are strengthened, better trained NEETs will become actors of growth in their countries contributing to improve the quality of cultural and heritage tourism and regional competitiveness.
Enhancing the competitiveness of regions with high unemployment rates of NEETs through addressing key tourism policy and management issues such as quality assurance through developing work-based learning schemes focusing on linking culture, tourism and destination attractiveness.
Offer better chances for young people (NEETs) to be better trained and more competitive in the tourism job market of their region
Enhance and assure the quality in the field of tourism by the introduction of work-based learning schemes tailored to local needs and opportunities
Foster a strong link between tourism and cultural heritage
Strengthen regional economic development through increasing competitiveness as locations to live, visit, work and invest in.
During the project, four intellectual outputs will be delivered aiming at strengthening the development of regions with high youth unemployment rates through work-based learning schemes in cultural and heritage tourism. Upon the completion of the project the developed outputs will be shared with third parties through "open access", fostering the multiplication of the project results.
In the framework of IO's activities the following tangible results will be developed:
(1) PRO-YOUTH methodological framework for Work-Based Learning (WBL) proposing answers to the following challenges:
Which materials are useful for multipliers training employees in the cultural and heritage tourism sector?
Which tools are needed to provide on-the-job training for unskilled youth to reintegrate them into the tourism job market, where they often end up as unskilled workers? How to ensure that they will be better skilled and better paid on the long-term?
What are the most relevant skills and how can prospective tourism employees be effectively prepared for their daily job?
(2) Learning/training tools to support the transition towards more efficient WBL schemes and modernization of the existing WBL systems in the field of tourism. The learning modules will be produced in English and translated in the language of each participating country.
(3) The PRO-YOUTH Practical Handbook will serve as a guidebook for the implementation of the project methods, and it will present the results and conclusions of the pilot testing phase. Its final version will be available in English, Croatian, Italian, Romanian and Bulgarian.
(4) PRO-YOUTH Policy Recommendations aiming at making the transition from education to work in cultural and heritage tourism smoother, and furthermore fostering a strong link between tourism and culture.