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Economic project 1: Decreasing OUtmigration through tourism Trade school


Ethiopia is currently facing an outmigration crisis and many youths are leaving in search of economic opportunities. Unfortunately, these migration efforts often result in human trafficking or death and leave the home community with a loss of its future. 

We plan to leverage the growing tourism industry in Ethiopia and provide economic opportunities for local youth by developing a school in hospitality and tourism. This school will be a collaborative venture between US and Swiss universities, local Ethiopian hotel and restaurant owners, and the social development office of the Catholic Church in the Tigray region.  

The increase in quality of service and skills in the newly trained workers will foster tourism, lead to job creation, and reduce outmigration because more jobs are available locally. 


Ethiopia needs to stimulate job creation in areas with high levels of outmigration.  


Although the current main industry is based on agriculture, there are currently shortages of land. Children who are not the first born, and often male, will not inherit land from their families, and the absence of economic opportunities has resulted in many youths searching for jobs outside of Ethiopia. Migrants are often exploited during their travels or end up in abusive or dangerous working conditions. 

One main industry for future local economic growth is tourism. In 2018, Ethiopia experienced the highest tourism growth in the world. Tourists supported 2.2 million jobs and contributed $7.4 billion to Ethiopia’s economy, which is a $2.2 billion increase from 2017. 

There is a significant gap in the number and quality of skilled workers and the growing tourism demand. Our efforts are intended to reduce this gap.


We will create a school that is a partnership between the Linking Lives Internship Program, faculty from the Department of Marketing and the Department of Hospitality and Tourism at Virginia Tech, the Universita della Svizzera Italiana, and local hotel and restaurant owners.


The curriculum will be developed as a collaboration between academic content and industry needs and will combine class-based instruction with hands-on experiences at the school's restaurant and lodging facilities. English skills will be included as part of the curriculum. We envision the school to provide meals to the public and short-term housing for tourists. 

The program will require 18 months to complete and internships beyond the school-based restaurant and lodgings will be available through the local businesses. Tuition will be subsidized through grants and support from the local businesses. University students at VT and USI will have the opportunity to serve as teaching assistants, and complete their field practicum requirements. 


Upon graduation, students will have a skill set that will be in demand because of the growing tourism industry. 

Anticipated Outcomes

Short term outcomes of the school include:

  • Increase in skilled labor pool in the tourism industry 

  • Increase in quality of service in partner hotels 

Long term outcomes of the school include:

  • Increase in number of tourists 

  • Economic development and increased job creation 

  • Decrease of outmigration 

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