The knowledge society and the careers of the future
The evolving labour market poses a vital challenge for the tourism sector: How to equip the workforce with the skills demanded by the future? Esteemed speakers explored this topic during the 9th Tourism Panel at the Bled Strategic Forum.
9th Tourism Panel at the Bled Strategic Forum: The knowledge society and the careers of the future The labour market is undergoing rapid transformations due to global influences. Emerging technologies, digitalization, automated business processes, the shift toward a low-carbon economy, globalization, evolving societies, and an aging population poses a significant challenge to the tourism industry: How can we adapt the labour market to effectively address the demand for new skills in the workforce, particularly for the careers of the future? Esteemed speakers delved into this subject during the 9th tourism panel organized by the Slovenian Tourist Board (STB) and the Ministry of the Economy, Tourism, and Sport (MEST). The panel, titled “Knowledge Society and Future Jobs in Tourism,” was part of the 18th Bled Strategic Forum (BSF) held today.
The tourism sector creates many jobs while nurturing values like hospitality and meaningful human interactions. Simultaneously, the sector has faced a long-standing challenge of a global shortage of suitably skilled labour. The future landscape of tourism professions is shaped by environmentally conscious and digitally driven roles. Industry entities seek professionals with exceptional expertise and highly developed soft skills.
In this era of information, knowledge stands as a vital catalyst for economic growth and social progress. Despite this, the allure of working conditions within the tourism domain often falls short. How can the industry appeal to young talents? And how can existing employees be equipped with enhanced skills and encouraged to stay?
Undoubtedly, the swift progress of technology will significantly influence work in tourism – some roles will evolve, others will be replaced, and fresh opportunities will emerge. During the BSF’s tourism panel, these key questions will be adressed by distinguished domestic and international experts.
Matevž Frangež, State Secretary at the Ministry of Economy, Tourism and Sport, emphasized Slovenia’s strategic dedication to sustainable tourism: “Slovenia is already among the world’s most sustainable destinations. Central to the success of Slovenian tourism is the transformative influence of its people. Their ability to craft experiences and infuse the Slovenian tourist offer with authenticity is unparalleled. With this foundation, we are positive that the industry’s strategic objectives, including enhancing added value, will be reached.”
Matevž Frangež, State Secretary at the Ministry of Economy, Tourism and Sport highlighted Slovenia’s strategic dedication to sustainable tourism.
MSc. Maja Pak, the Director of the Slovenian Tourist Board (STB), underlined in her opening address that labour shortages present one of the biggest challenges for the tourism sector, alongside the pressing concern of climate change, which has led to increasingly severe weather patterns. As she noted, “By 2030, millennials and Generation Z will compose nearly two-thirds of the global workforce. Their digital expertise, entrepreneurial mindset, appreciation for cultural diversity, commitment to sustainability and the environment, along with elevated expectations of corporate and organizational social responsibility and adaptability, can significantly enhance the competitiveness of the tourism sector. Meeting these generations’ anticipations demands from the tourism employers to be prepared. The challenge is not solely to attract young talents to the industry but also keep, upskill, and empower existing employees. While propelling the digital transformation of tourism is imperative, we must know that, amidst the advantages of rapid technological progression, people should remain central to tourism, as well as to the broader concept of modern sustainability.”
MSc. Maja Pak, the Director of the STB, underlined that labour shortages present one of the biggest challenges for the tourism sector, alongside the pressing concern of climate change, which has led to increasingly severe weather patterns.
The discussion then focused on three key aspects. The institutional dimension was thoughtfully explored through a guided dialogue between Alessandra Priante, Director of the Regional Department for Europe at the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), and Dubravka Kalin, Director General of the Directorate for Tourism at the Ministry of Economy, Tourism and Sport.
In the photo (from left): Igor Evgen Bergant, Alessandra Priante, Director of the Regional Department for Europe at the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Dubravka Kalin, Director General of the Directorate for Tourism at the Ministry of Economy, Tourism and Sport and Martina Gojkošek, Head of Corporate PR at the STB.
The educational perspective was illuminated by Dr. Danica Purg, Founder and Director of IEDC – Bled Business School, Ulrika Björklund, CEO of Swiss Education Group, and Rodney Dunn, chef and co-founder of The Agrarian Kitchen restaurant and cooking school.
In the photo (from left): Rodney Dunn, Chef, Dr Danica Purg, Founder and Director of IEDC and Ulrika Björklund, CEO of Swiss Education Group and Martina Gojkošek, STB.
Delving into the impacts of the technological transformation, insights were shared by Dr. Emilija Stojmenova Duh, Minister for Digital Transformation, and Marie Audren, Director General of the European Association of Hotels, Restaurants, Cafés, and Nightclubs (HOTREC).
In the photo (from left): Dr. Emilija Stojmenova Duh, Minister for Digital Transformation and Marie Audren, Director General of HOTREC.
Key insights from the discussion:
To attract young people we must refine the art of crafting inspiring narratives and spotlighting the sector’s individual accomplishments.
The potential of digital transformation and the integration of new technologies is not yet fully exploited. remains significant. There are many opportunities to improve work processes and approaches to better understand and engage with guests.
Nurturing digital skills across all generations is crucial. Technology will not replace people; rather, it can alleviate specific tasks, fostering efficiency and process improvement.
Bridging the generational gap and fostering knowledge exchange are vital.
Education systems should prioritize cultivating experiential learning, fostering creativity, imagination, and critical thinking.
While a good education system is essential, a individual’s personal attitude, their passion for work, and a drive for continuous growth play key roles in achieving success.
Despite a successful post-COVID-19 tourism recovery, the industry’s resilience requires continuous nurturing. Sustainable destinations demonstrate swifter recovery from shocks, but ultimately, the heart of success resides in individuals and their personal contributions.
We must shape the tourism of tomorrow with a fresh approach, improved methods, and increased local engagement. A sustainable destination management approach, centered around people and the tourism workforce, is vital to foster a positive outlook on tourism. Such an approach enables visitors to truly connect with the destination’s essence, a creation shaped together with its people.
This year, the Bled Strategic Forum is also a charity event. Attendees have been invited to display their solidarity by contributing funds to aid those affected by the recent floods in Slovenia.
In the cover photo (from left): Dubravka Kalin, Director General of the Directorate for Tourism at the Ministry of Economy, Tourism and Sport, Dr. Danica Purg, founder and director of IEDC – Bled Business School, Dr. Emilija Stojmenova Duh, Minister for Digital Transformation, MSc. Maja Pak, Director of the Slovenian Tourist Board, Alessandra Priante, Director of the Regional Department for Europe at the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Matevž Frangež, State Secretary at the Ministry of the Economy, Tourism and Sport, Ulrika Björklund, Executive Director of the Swiss Education Group, Marie Audren, Director General HOTREC and Rodney Dunn, chef and co-founder of The Agrarian Kitchen restaurant and cooking school. Photo: Jošt Gantar