“Knowledge, which will serve us for life”

Jinnette, just graduated from the TUI Academy Dominican Republic

TUI Care Foundation and Plan International recently celebrated the second graduation ceremony of the TUI Academy in the Dominican Republic. A total of 36 students, including 30 young unemployed women, received their diplomas during a ceremony at the Royalton Punta Cana Resort. They are now fully qualified to pursue a career in tourism, a crucial step for disadvantaged young people in a country where youth unemployment tips 35% and young women account for a staggering 70% of this figure. Key stakeholders were present at the event, including the Dutch Ambassador to the Dominic Republic, Ms Annemieke Verrijp.

The TUI Academy model offers a successful formula to support young people from the most vulnerable communities in Punta Cana. As a large number of the women taking part are single mothers, the TUI Academy also offers day care for their children.

24 year old Angela, a young mother and recent graduate of the programme, explained how working in a hotel for the first time has helped her face and overcome some important challenges. “I feel that I’ve achieved so many good things ... and I'm really excited about the TUI Academy, it's been the best thing that ever happened to me.”

The TUI Academy in the Dominican Republic was set up by the TUI Care Foundation and Plan International to provide opportunities for youngsters in the thriving tourism industry. “With the support of Blue Diamond Resorts and the expertise of Plan, we’ve built a robust model which provides life-changing career paths. It’s so rewarding to see young people, whose life chances before were limited, grow in confidence and blossom during their internship and beyond.” says Lidewij Helmich, Manager Programmes & Operations at TUI Care Foundation.

The initiative provides technical training in conjunction with INFOTEP, the National Institute of Technical-Vocational Training in the Dominican Republic. Students can choose one of four subject areas: hotel reception & administrative skills, bartender, room attendant or kitchen assistant. Life skills and employability training such as conflict management, personal development and English lessons are also part of the programme, followed by a 3 month internship at one of the Blue Diamond Resorts. After successful completion of the training program, the hotels offer the students a 6-month work contract.

Through the TUI Academy, 150 young people from three communities in Punta Cana will receive training to help them find work, with 62 students having already graduated the programme. Natalia Ureña, Interim Director of Plan International Dominican Republic, explains: “It is a dream come true for those who, in the past, often saw doors closed due to the lack of opportunities for technical training, to learn the English language or for lack of work reference.”

TUI Care Foundation is currently running the TUI Academy programme in a number of other countries worldwide, including Vietnam and Tanzania.

Focusing globally, it promotes education and empowerment to help change the lives of the younger generation and especially women, so they can build a future of their own and for their communities.