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Preparing the Tourism Workforce in Portugal for the Digital Future- OECD Report

The report examines and assesses current policy approaches to tourism skills and workforce development to support the digital transformation of the tourism sector in Portugal. The report indicates that digital skills gaps in much of the tourism workforce are thought to be widespread and reflect a lack of familiarity with basic digital tools and applications. These gaps hold back effective online marketing and communications, harnessing social media, monitoring online reviews and routine data analysis. Future tourism skills gaps are expected for programming skills, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics integration, developing and harnessing augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), although all but the largest employers are likely to choose to ‘out-source’ these skills to specialist businesses and consultants. Of particular concern are the digital knowledge and skills gaps affecting owners of smaller businesses and owner-managers, where there is a need for: A widespread uplift on managers’ knowledge and understanding of the digital transformations affecting the sector and the business case for digitalisation in aiding recovery and building resilience. An appreciation of the digital technology options likely to be relevant to their own businesses and to help companies understand what is needed for reskilling and upskilling their employees (in different functions) and the pathways to tackling this flexibly cost-effectively. A better understanding of the digital skills needs of themselves and other managers to optimise digitalisation in key business functions and motivate workforce adjustment. Management skills gaps are not homogenous and smaller accommodation providers were thought to have been more agile in aligning with website integration, platform-based sales and online marketing and social media promotion. New entrant businesses and start-ups among younger and often digitally literate entrepreneurs were also seen as stronger adopters. Evidence of digital skills shortages in tourism in Portugal until very recently has been adversely affected by the pandemic curtailing recruitment activity. When recruitment picks up, some specialised skills constraints are expected to emerge, with particular concerns about the sector’s weak competitiveness for those transferable digital skills in demand across the economy (e.g. web design, social media marketing, data analytics), and for combining customer handling skills with digital literacy.