(MENAFN - Jordan Times) AMMAN — Planning Minister Imad Fakhoury and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) President Suma Chakrabarti on Sunday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) establishing a Sector Skills Organisation in hospitality and tourism, according to an EBRD statement.
The organisation, formed by the private sector and professional associations with public sector participation, willpromote the development of specific skills needed to boost the local tourism and hospitality industry.
With its world heritage sites and natural and cultural attractions, including a distinctive cuisine, Jordan's tourism and hospitality sector is worth more than 10 per cent of the country's GDP (over JD2.8 billion in 2016), creating many job opportunities across the country.
However, according to sector employers, Jordan's formal education system is currently unable to provide the skills required to further improve service quality and help the industry grow, the statement said.
The Sector Skills Organisation will not only helphotels, tour operators, guides, food services and restaurants to invest in their staff's development but also help potential employees gain the skills that are most in demand by the industry, the EBRD said.
The organisation willpromote tourism and hospitality careers, identify gaps in technical skills and help set up training programmes in coordination withvocational institutions and schools. It will also helpintroduce specific qualifications and certifications of standards.
During the ceremony, Fakhoury expressed appreciation for the Bank's initiative, which he described as 'timely' and coming in response to actual needs on the ground, a Planning Ministry statement said.
He said it contributes in translating some urgent priorities under the different strategies (including the National Human Resource Development Strategy and the National Employment Strategy) into 'actions and tangible results'.
The two training facilities already supported by that EBRD — the Abdali Mall Recruitment and Training Centre and the Ayla Academy — have produced more than 250 qualified youth, 65 per cent of whom found permanent jobs, Fakhoury noted.
In addition to supporting the tourism sector, which constitutes 10 per cent of the Jordanian economy, the organisation's creation is in line with strategies to further develop and upgrade the technical vocational education and training sector, by reforming and applying best practices in the field, providing accreditation and certification and establishing centres of excellence in niche areas to bridge the growing gap between supply and demand in the market, the minister said.
Minister of Tourism Lina Annab, EBRD Director of the Eastern Mediterranean region Heike Harmgart and Ministry of Labour Secretary General Hani Khleifat attended the ceremony.
In preparation for the 27th Annual Meeting of the EBRD's Governors and Business Forum set to kick off at the Dead Sea on May 9, Fakhoury also held a meeting with banks officials.
Themed 'Energising Economies', the meeting will engage participants in discussions on a variety of issues including efforts to support economic growth and enhance the business environment in the countries and regions targeted by the Bank's operations and investments, the minister explained.
Debates will also focus on a number of sectors such as energy, infrastructure, finance and modern techniques in the provision of financial services and participation in capital financing, among others, according to Fakhoury.
The event, which will be held under the patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah, will see the participation of more than 2,000 members of official delegations and local and international representatives from the private sector, Fakhoury said.