How the companies approach education and training of employees and also whether there is an interest in cluster collaboration. I hope the results will be useful for companies to organize education and for the government to improve the environment in which smaller companies operate.
Last summer I researched online education, its challenges, opportunities and best practices. I did this because Covid had just begun and people were changing their habits to move more online. The results showed that blended learning approach were the most affective. Through blended learning, staff can save time, educate themselves while working and users have more control over when and how they learn, they can even learn at their own pace without slowing down others. When students and staff have control over their learning they are more likely to take it seriously. Blended learning also reduces the cost of education considerably, by transferring part of the learning material to the internet which saves costs associated with having a lecturer on site. On the whole, people learn by doing and when situations arise in their daily work, the individual learns faster and better.
Tourist destinations are expected to provide a high-quality service and products, but at the same time one of the main characteristics of the tourist industry is a low level of education, the main reason for this is that it is easy to get a job in tourism and earn more work experience which can lead to better jobs for the individual. Consumers are increasingly concerned about issues related to their purchasing behavior, carbon footprint, environmental impact, work standards and food security. We have seen changes in skills requirements in the last year as the emphasis has been placed on features that will be less automated. The impact of technology is determined by how one uses it and we can easily steer technological change to benefit our lives, the main obstacles of the future include a lack of understanding the changes that are taking place. Therefore the education and training that takes place inside the company is extremely important for the future of the companies.
There is no magic solution to education problems but within smaller companies education and training is often more complex than in larger ones due to lack of resources, expertise and skills needed to plan and evaluate training for employees, so the training is often unplanned and informal. Small and medium-sized enterprises promote increased employment and innovation and are increasingly important for the competitiveness of countries and the development of tourist attractions. There are a lot of opportunities for small companies, they can for example form a partnership with other companies which can allow them to reduce the production cost for education and training. In the current situation due to Covid-19, there is a risk of knowledge leakage from the industry and a shortage of qualified staff but at the same time this situation gives us an opportunity to plan, educate and improve skills and training and thus the effects of the pandemic could lead to a stronger and more flexible education as the pandemic forces many to adopt innovations in teaching and education. Companies that have prioritized training, education and development have seen it pay off with greater profitability and increased employee satisfaction.
During my interviews with small tourism companies I have found that most of them do provide an effective training and education and agree that it does pay off with more costumer satisfaction, employee satisfaction and the companies reputation. I think these smaller companies are a big reason for why tourists look to Iceland as an attraction and we can thank them for their high-quality service. One of the companies I have talked to is Exploring Iceland and they are doing a great job with their small company and personal approach, they have been very helpful by providing me with examples of training and education which they have been using and maintaining.
Text by: Lilja Karen Kjartansdóttir
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