Employability and the future of work in tourist activity

Employability and the future of work in tourist activity

*By Dario Luiz Dias Paixão, Ph.D.

The term employability began to be used in the first years of the 20th century in Great Britain and, soon after, it entered the French (“employabilité”) and American vocabulary and other countries concerned with defining which professionals were employable and which were not-employable. This notion has sustained debates among medical and psychological scholars since the 1960s/1970s, in addition to those responsible for laws and policies related to employment and the labor market.

In Sociology (GAZIER, 1983) and in Administration (SHERER; EADIE, 1987), scientific studies began in the 1980s, as the post-oil crisis recession led multinationals to lay off thousands of people, while new theories and practices emerged such as: ‘reengineering’ and ‘downsizing’. Brazil started to use the word in the 1990s, while in the tourist sector it became more used in the 2000s.

Today, the term is studied globally by researchers and professionals with multidisciplinary views, either with the objective of practical and market applications, or for theoretical and ideological reasons.

Employability is defined as the “condition of becoming professionally relevant and competitive through qualities (knowledge, aptitudes, attitudes, skills and competences) desired by the labor market” (PAIXÃO, 2005).

There are many definitions and relationships that, applied strategically, help professionals to achieve their goals, as well as companies in attracting talent, which we call ‘entrepreneurship’ or ‘employer branding’.

At the World Economic Forum (WEF), employability is widely debated. For this non-profit public-private cooperation entity, chaired by the professor at the University of Geneva, Klaus Schwab, the future of work has been a central concern in the debates of the 3,500 political, social, business, artistic and environmental leaders who annually participate in the event in Davos, Switzerland.

On its website or social networks, there are several articles and reports from experts, universities and organizations, based on applied research that treat the subject with academic seriousness. The most recurrent themes are: Globalization 4.0, Future of Education, Human Potential, Work and Employment, Entrepreneurship and Artificial Intelligence, always related to the famous employability skills.

These are propositional works that start from the premise that the 4th Industrial Revolution is already having an unprecedented impact on skills, tasks and jobs in the world. It is known that the risk of rising unemployment and the scarcity of talent will affect the dynamism of business, social cohesion and global sustainability, generating injustice and insecurity for the whole of humanity.

Technology is exponentially affecting the job market and business models. And, despite emerging professions with opportunities in all fields, including Tourism, without constant retraining, the work world will generate mass unemployment, creating a legion of people who will not even be able to compete for the most basic jobs, and still, fostering low levels of equality and sustainability.

Thus, in addition to studies and cases that aim to discuss, measure and assess whether the employability skills acquired by professionals correspond to current opportunities, the WEF has the project ‘Preparing for the Future of Work’, which provides a platform for collaborative action between public, private and NGO sectors, providing the basis for future human and labor development strategies, through permanent qualification.

The idea is to generate abundant information and knowledge, thus creating an Agenda (or a Roadmap) so that global leaders can shape the ‘Future of Education, Gender and Work’ through a Reskilling Revolution.

And tourism has a central role in the implementation of the WEF’s objectives, either because it has been experiencing the future of work for years by implementing new technologies and encouraging entrepreneurship, or by generating work, income and democratization of leisure in learning ecosystems, fostering culture and heritage preservation.

In a complex, dynamic and challenging world, “Man is out of touch! We do not live under the emancipation regime, but under the tension, caused by ghosts such as unemployment, pandemics, stress, cholesterol, urban violence and terrorist attacks” (CHARLES; LIPOVETSKY, 2004). It is up to us, tourism professionals, to rescue a more human dimension of Hospitality, valuing encounter, creativity, pleasure, well-being, interior development, sensations and dreams.

Therefore, valuing the soft skills (socio-emotional and relational skills) of professionals in the sector, as well as the experiences of consumer travelers, are among the main trends for tourism to generate work, income and happiness for the future again!

The opinions expressed in this text are the author’s opinion and do not necessarily reflect the position of WTM Latin America.

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