Vila Vita was the stage to present a program to combat seasonality in employment

«Good example» of the resort located on the coast of the municipality of Lagoa should be «replicated»

The luxury resort Vila Vita, in Alporchinhos, on the coast of the municipality of Lagoa, employs 900 people permanently, a number that, last summer, rose to 1157. In other words, only 257 workers are hired on a temporary basis, to help with the peak busiest in the complex.

Unlike many hotels and resorts in the Algarve, Vila Vita never closes and always finds a way to keep its 900 permanent workers busy, even if only with training sessions, in addition to offering them above-average salaries, other benefits such as health insurance, health, transport, accommodation for those who come from far away or even state-of-the-art equipment to make work easier.

It was for all of this that Vila Vita was the place in the Algarve chosen to be visited, last Friday, by the Secretary of State for Labor. The government official took the opportunity to present the new 365 ON program, which aims to combat seasonality in employment in the hotel and tourism sector. The presentation was made before members of the administration and management of Vila Vita, the vice-presidents of the Chamber of Lagoa and the Algarve Tourism Region, the vice-president of the Institute of Employment and Professional Training (IEFP), the regional director of the IEFP and the director of the Barlavento Employment Center, as well as representatives from CCDR Algarve, the University of Algarve and AHETA.

«My coming here today is not innocent. Knowing your work and your experience, I understand that it should be used as an example of good practice and even generalized, as much as possible", especially "in a region where we know that the issue of seasonality is strong", highlighted Miguel Fontes.

«When Dr. Madalena Feu, regional director of IEFP, to identify who, in the Algarve, could be a good calling card to present the new 365 ON program, she immediately suggested your group to us», continued the Secretary of State. «If someone gets jealous, there's a good remedy, it's to do the same, and tomorrow I'll be there saying exactly the same words».


At the “Ocean” restaurant, during the visit – Photo: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação


The hotel industry, he added, especially the higher quality one, involves “providing experiences and the human component is essential there”. Having «motivated workers, committed to the project, guarantees service excellence».

Miguel Fontes added that there is no dichotomy between “the union agenda” and the “competitiveness agenda”. At a time when the world “is characterized, essentially, by an economy based on people and when we are all competing for talent, wanting to attract it, value it and retain it, if that is true across countries, between regions, between sectors of activity, between companies, what history teaches us is that whoever does not do so is penalized».

Even recently, with the pandemic, tourism had this experience: «Those who didn't take good care of their family had a lot of difficulty, when they wanted to resume their activity, in making their family theirs again», he highlighted. However, admitted the Secretary of State, «there are still many business leaders and organizations who lack the understanding that they will be stronger if they invest more in people».

Now, the objective of the new 365 ON Program is, revealed Miguel Fontes, «to support companies so that they can, maintaining jobs throughout the year, in periods when there is less need to have such a significant workforce, combine , in the percentage they see fit, the work component with the training component».

And the IEFP will not say what the training component is, it will be the opposite. «The IEFP makes itself available to companies, so that, if they need to use training programs, it can provide them». The objective will be to “use time and resources more intelligently”. Training could include “improving language skills or service levels, taking the opportunity to train in new technologies, introducing new work processes”, among many other areas.


Rui Nunes, introducing the group – Photo: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação


Rui Nunes, executive director of Human Resources at Vila Vita, told Sul Informação that, most likely, the group will not make significant use of the new program announced by Secretary of State Miguel Fontes. But he considered it “very useful” for other companies.

This is because, at Vila Vita, training is a constant, even using the group's internal resources, «through cross training, visits to producers, support in qualification». Just last week, the kitchen team, all chefs and sous chefs, visited the Monterrosa olive oil farm, as well as a fleur de sel producer, both suppliers of the group's restaurants.

«Which company frees its employees from working time to visit the producer? It is a constant concern of ours to provide knowledge to our employees. If we want them to perform their functions better, there is nothing better than helping people develop their skills», highlighted Rui Nunes.

After a visit to the Vila Vita complex, located right on the seafront, next to the beach, the Secretary of State for Labor explained in more detail, to the Sul Informação, the new 365 ON Program.

The program, he recalled, «will seek to respond to a problem that has long been identified in the hospitality and tourism industry, and here in the Algarve region, with particular expression, which is the problem of seasonality».


Secretary of State Miguel Fontes with Kurt Gillig, general director of Vila Vita – Photo: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação


«We are in the middle of the low season and, despite the effort to diversify the tourist product in the Algarve, so as not to be so dependent only on the sun and sea product, the truth is that there is still a lot of tourist activity that is marked by enormous seasonality. And this is a serious problem for workers and our economy. What we want is to invite companies to do what good groups, namely the one I had the opportunity to visit and which is a reference in the tourism industry, have long realized: the importance of investing in training, investing in qualification and use times when work is less intensive to use training».

«This is what we want to do, providing companies with support so that they can finance part of their workers' salary costs at that time, combining a work component with a training component and the State supporting the professional training component».

The only problem with the new 365 ON Program is that it runs the risk of never seeing the light of day, at least with this Government, which is only in management until a new executive takes office after the Legislative Elections next March. Furthermore, as revealed by the Secretary of State, the measure will still have to be discussed within social consultation, which should happen later this month.

Questioned by Sul Informação Regarding this aspect, Miguel Fontes responded that «in our understanding, this is a program that does not conflict with the situation of the Government being in management, because it is not exactly any new measure, it is a program to support business activity which is part of a previous strategy and which the Institute of Employment and Vocational Training will be able to implement».


Photos: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação


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