Impact and Change through Skills for Tourism

Article, 01.08.2020

“In hospitality, you make people happy” - Thone, 19-year-old from Luang Prabang.

Thone at the Silk Road Café at the Living Crafts Centre by Ock Pop Tok, overlooking the Mekong river.
Thone at the Silk Road Café at the Living Crafts Centre by Ock Pop Tok, overlooking the Mekong river. Photo © Ock Pop Tok.

“My signature dish is Tabouleh” says Thone, assistant chef at the Silk Road Café at the Living Crafts Centre by Ock Pop Tok. The 19-year-old has been working for over 1 year at the Centre, which is visited by many tourists on a daily basis. With a grin on his face, he continues “I like to prepare international food, but of course, I also make a pretty good Bamboo soup”.

Originally from Sieng Ngeg village and the Khmu community, Thone first started to develop his cooking techniques when he signed up to a Food Production training delivered by LANITH Luang Prabang Training Centre. Through the course, he learned about Food and Beverage, but also about other areas, such as housekeeping and service, life skills and English language.

Asked about his motivation, Thone explains that he knew that a short-term training would provide an opportunity to find a good job later, through which he could help his family.

For Thone and his family, life was a struggle. “Before” he says “I didn’t even have money to go to the hospital, but now I earn enough money to send to my family and to take care of myself”.
He’s proud of himself and so is his supervisor, Head Chef Ms Keo. She describes Thone as a quick learner who easily adapted to his new environment and team. Ms Veomanee Douangdala, Co-Founder of Ock Pop Tok who personally recruited Thone right after he graduated from the course is also very happy with his development. “You can just tell he’s enjoying his work”.

And indeed, Thone is passionate about his vocation, “in hospitality, you make people happy and that’s what I try to do”. With that positive mindset, Thone is ready to learn more about all the diverse cooking methods and to continue on his road to becoming head chef.

The three-month Certificate 1 (C1)-accredited training programmes in Food Production, Food and Beverage Service and Housekeeping are supported by the Skills for Tourism Project (LAO/029) and delivered by the LANITH Luang Prabang Training Centre.

These training courses which focus, in particular, on inclusion of people from disadvantaged backgrounds in tourism/hospitality training and employment, are designed to equip young women and men with the required skill set to land an entry-level job in the tourism and hospitality sector. The LANITH Luang Prabang Training Centre supplements the high quality practical training with intensive English language lessons and basic employability skills.

Since 2017, the project supported over 100 students (75% of whom are women). All graduates have secured employment in the tourism and hospitality sector, including at leading hotels and restaurants in Luang Prabang.