Hotel and tourism upgrades provide new jobs across Algeria

 

With new hotel and tourism developments in the pipeline, Algeria is looking to boost job growth in the industry while developing the skills needed in the labour force. In addition, the 2021 Mediterranean Games are set to give training programmes a timely boost as host city Oran prepares to take centre stage. Indeed, the July 2018 opening of a branch of the Algiers Higher School of Hotel and Restaurant Management (Ecole Supérieure d’Hôtellerie et de Restauration d’Alger, ESHRA) in Oran is set to provide Algeria with a solid foundation from which to develop its human capital with respect to tourism, and is the second hospitality school in the country to receive accreditation from the prestigious Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne of Switzerland.

Employment

Tourism sector jobs have seen modest growth in the last decade. When the Tourism Development Masterplan (le Schéma Directeur d’Aménagement Touristique, SDAT) 2030 was launched in 2008, the industry accounted for approximately 200,000 jobs (both direct and indirect), according to the National Statistics Office. This figure has slowly climbed to 275,000, with plenty of growth required for the official target of 900,000 jobs to be reached by 2030.

Infrastructure Upgrades

As the Ministry of Tourism and Handicrafts (Ministère du Tourisme et de l’Artisanat, MTA) strives to increase the number of hotels and tourism sites in the country, the concomitant infrastructure upgrades being conducted under the SDAT 2030 accounted for 4476 direct jobs at the end of 2017. Projects currently under construction are set to create a further 44,840 direct jobs, according to the “SDAT 2008-18 Evaluation Report”, and those in the planning stages were estimated to be able to provide 47,812 jobs, while 6978 jobs could come from those on standby.

Hospitality Work

In terms of the employment opportunities in the hospitality sector itself, the wilaya (province) of Algiers currently possesses a total of 182 hotels with 11,743 employees and a combined capacity of 20,924 beds.

Meanwhile, there are 82 hotel projects currently under development in the province, which, when complete, are expected to create approximately 60,000 new jobs, as well as 14,000 extra beds. Some 18,000 of these new employment opportunities are expected to come from the large-scale hotel projects under construction in the Algiers suburb of Bab Ezzouar and the nearby seaside town of Sidi Fredj by January 2019, while other works in the pipeline will provide the remaining 40,000 jobs.

Adding to the employment opportunities in the wilaya are 669 tourism and travel agencies, which accounted for more than 2700 jobs in 2017.

Oran Prepares

The Mediterranean Games are usually held every four years and are open to nations in and around the Mediterranean Sea. As the host city for the 19th edition of the event in 2021, the seaside town of Oran is expected to see a boost in its employment rate as numerous new accommodation options come on-stream.

The summer of 2018 saw the coastal city open seven private hotels, generating 836 beds and 341 jobs and bringing the total number of hotels and associated employees in the wilaya to 186 and 3000, respectively. Meanwhile, another eight private-sector hotels are scheduled to come into service in December 2019, according to press statements made by Abdelkader Benmessaoud, minister of tourism and handicrafts, creating 850 beds and 300 jobs.

The strategy ahead of the games dictates that at least four hotels should be present in each of the communes of the wilaya by 2021. As of September 2018, some 173 projects were under construction, with progress ranging from 57% to 95% complete. Once in place, these new sites should provide 24,395 beds and 7463 direct jobs, according to the MTA.

Training Programmes

With the tourism sector in Algeria accounting for a relatively small percentage of GDP by regional and global standards, stakeholders have highlighted the need to develop a stronger hospitality culture if the SDAT’s goals for foreign visitor arrival growth are to be realised.

For this reason, there is a distinct need for large-scale training programmes to ensure the availability of a skilled labour force able to provide high levels of service in the growing accommodation market.

Fortunately, the will to improve is evident, with the government-owned hotel operator Groupe Hôtellerie, Tourisme et Thermalisme (Groupe HTT) keen to develop pedagogical partnerships between the public and private sectors. To this end, in September 2017 the group signed an agreement with the National Apprenticeship and Continuing Training Development Fund – an initiative designed by the Ministry of Training and Professional Teaching (Ministère de la Formation et de l’Enseignement Professionel, MFEP) – establishing a training programme for instructors of apprentices working for Groupe HTT in 14 key areas of activity, including cooking and restaurant services, human resources, and reception and hospitality.

While the collaboration is no doubt a positive for the industry, challenges persist in terms of human capital, including achieving consistently high standards nationwide and retaining talent. “Human resources are fairly well trained. The main problem is maintaining consistency across the national territory. The relatively low salaries do not help keep human resources in the public sector, so they tend to lean towards the private,” Lazhar Bounafaa, CEO of Groupe HTT, told OBG.

More recently, in July 2018 the MTA unveiled an education programme designed to improve the skills of more than 3800 tourism workers, emphasising human resources as a key component of tourism policy under the SDAT. The programme is the result of an agreement between the MTA and the MFEP. In addition to training employees, the initiative aims to grow the number of teaching positions dedicated to tourism within relevant education establishments and enhance the quality of tuition. “This programme is about rehabilitating the tourism sector by improving the quality of service and dispelling the negative perceptions that have dogged the sector,” Benmessaoud told local media.

Education

A number of schools exist for students with the skills for a career in hospitality. One of these is the publicly funded National School of Tourism in Algiers, which was created in 1994 to train future managers in the sector. With capacity for 230 students, 108 graduated in the 2017/18 academic year. The institute employs 15 permanent teachers and offers a master’s and undergraduate programme.

Also established in 1994, the Institute of Hotel and Tourism Techniques (Institut des Techniques Hôtelières et Touristiques, INHT) runs a two-year course and has two branches – one in Tizi Ouzou in the north-central region and the other in Boussaâda 245 km south of Algiers. Both branches train senior technicians in the fields of cooking, hospitality and tourism, with Tizi Ouzou seeing 96 students graduate in the 2017/18 year and Boussaâda 84. The INHT accepts students between the ages of 18 and 27 with competencies in French, Arabic and English, and as of the end of the 2017/18 academic year, 5027 students had graduated since its inception.

A more recent addition to the portfolio of education centres is the Algiers branch of ESHRA, which opened its doors in 2016. Located in the commune of Aïn Benian, the school offers a four-year degree in hotel and restaurant management accredited by the Algerian government and the prestigious Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne of Switzerland. In addition to classrooms the campus has a sports centre, swimming pool, beach club and restaurant. Situated close to Le Méridien hotel, the Oran branch of ESHRA – which opened in July 2018 – has 130 places and offers the change to specialise in one of three fields: cuisine and high gastronomy; service and restaurants; and accommodation. It also has a large outdoor space with restaurants and cafés where members of the public can sample dishes prepared by students. As well as offering a standard two-year degree, the school provides short courses.

Although the existence of these schools represents an important step forward, Algeria’s Maghreb neighbour Morocco is still a long way ahead, with at least 12 education centres dedicated to tourism distributed relatively evenly across the country. Moreover, while most of the Algerian educational institutes provide dormitory facilities, there is a distinct absence of training centres in the south. Nonetheless, the hosting of the 2021 Mediterranean Games in Oran should provide Algeria with an excellent opportunity to showcase a revamped hotel sector and hospitality culture to the world.

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The Report: Algeria 2018

Tourism chapter from The Report: Algeria 2018

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