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Co-creation methodologies for students’ employability in the food sector: some evidence from the FOODbiz project

Conference contribution
Authors Chiara Rinaldi
Eva Maria Jernsand
Lena Mossberg
Published in 27th Nordic Symposium on Tourism and Hospitality Research, Alta, Norway, 24-26 September
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Business Administration
Centre for Tourism
Department of Business Administration, Marketing Group
Language en
Keywords Co-creation, tourism methodology, student employability, food tourism, scary seafood
Subject categories Business Administration


Transitions towards more sustainable food and tourism systems appear to require the integration of fragmented knowledge borne by different actors (Miller et al. 2014). The triple helix partnership model (Etzkowits & Leydesdorff, 2000) entailing cooperation among universities, businesses and policymakers is being expanded first to quadruple helix by involving civil society, and then to quintuple helix, which frames knowledge and innovation in the context of the environment (natural environments) (Carayannis & Campbell 2010) and focuses on “socio-ecological transition”. While food tourism strategies appear to have great potential to support regional development (Hall, 2005), implementation faces major problems due to difficulties in conducting dialogue among heterogeneous stakeholders with different sets of values, interests and resources. Actors may lack training and business planning skills, or have limited time, finances, personnel, and experience of food producers and local touristic players (Verbole 2003; Saxena et al. 2007). Voices have also been raised regarding a mismatch between graduates in related subjects and the needs of the (food) tourism sector (Watson, 2008). Within this context, the role of higher education students as key mediators between research, business, and local development appears particularly relevant: they represent the educated workforce of the future, and to be employable and active contributors of economy, they should acquire skills that are relevant to the labour market. The purpose of this paper is to explore co-creational methodologies with students as key partners in the development of nature-based experiences centered on food. The paper presents the Erasmus + project “University and business learning for new employability paths in food and gastronomy – FOODbiz”, which applies different co-creational methodologies aimed at increasing students’ employability skills in the food and tourism sectors, and discusses implications. Within the project, students, academics and businesses in each target country define main challenges and learning needs in each local context. Then, tailor-made learning materials are provided accordingly to fill the knowledge and innovation gap and to support relations, common understanding, and exchange between students, business players and other stakeholders. Ultimately, this should improve skills in present and future workforce of the food sector, and support job creation.

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