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EBRD-backed Sector Skills Council to boost tourism in Albania

By Svitlana  Pyrkalo

  • Albania launches Sector Skills Council for the tourism industry
  • Training and new qualifications to address skills shortage
  • EBRD-supported Sector Skills Councils now exist in six countries

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has welcomed the launch of a Sector Skills Council in Albania which will focus on the tourism industry.

The Council, consisting of industry and government representatives, was formally announced today at an event organised by the National Agency of Vocational Education, Training and Qualifications of Albania, and the EBRD, and attended by representatives of the EBRD, EU, the government and the private sector.

The aim of the Council is to establish a list of professional and vocational qualifications which are most urgently needed by the tour operators, hotels and other tourism firms in Albania, and promote those qualifications in the local education system.

The Sector Skills Council is an EBRD-supported initiative which is now in place in six countries where the Bank operates.

The initiative is aligned with the Albanian Infrastructure and Tourism Enabling Programme (AITP), jointly supported by the EU and EBRD, which funds investments in infrastructure and tourism companies on the one hand, and on the other helps the government achieve the tourism-related objectives of the National Strategy for Development and Investment. 

The travel and tourism sector is a major driver of economic growth in Albania. In 2021 it directly contributed 7.5 per cent to GDP, and another 17.5 per cent indirectly. However, Albania’s tourism sector is still smaller than some comparable economies in the region and so has the potential for further growth.

Challenges include lack of modern infrastructure, which is also being addressed; the EBRD and the EU are supporting the modernisation of transport, including rail and roads, under separate programmes. Access to finance is now being improved via the dedicated credit lines to tourism and agribusiness small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), also supported by the government.

But another challenge is lack of services around historic sites and areas of natural beauty, which are needed to make tourism less focused on summer-time seaside holidays. To develop quality services, the industry needs people with skills.

The sector is short of qualified tour guides, hotel and restaurant managers, waiters and other specialities. At the same time, many young people who cannot find jobs at home look for employment abroad.

Ekaterina Solovova, EBRD Head of Albania, said: “The Sector Skills Council will work to introduce new qualifications into the local education system, vocational schools and universities, which will allow tourism companies to hire the people with the skills they need, develop the sector and create jobs for Albanian graduates.”

The Bank has, to date, invested more than €16 billion in the Western Balkans region and continues to invest more than €1 billion there every year.

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