INOGO Pilot Program

Publication Date: 
Monday, August 25, 2014
August Newsletter, No. VII


In late July, members of the INOGO team met with both public and private Costa Rican institutions in San José and Puerto Jiménez to further explore the possibility of collaborating on a pilot program, which would focus on local ecotourism employment opportunities for youth. INOGO spoke with various public sector entities, including the Ministry of Public Education (MEP), the System of National Conservation Areas (SINAC), and the Vocational High School in Puerto Jiménez (CTP), as well as with the private sector, represented by the Omar Dengo Foundation (FOD) and local ecolodges in the Osa.

In speaking with both the public and private sectors, the team was able to explore the needs and wishes of each, as well as the ways in which both could benefit from a pilot program in increasing local ecotourism employability. One of the difficulties students concentrating in ecotourism at the CTP Puerto Jimenez encounter is that their scheduled period for completing mandatory internship hours coincides with the low season in tourism to the Osa. At the same time students from the CTP are asked to complete internship hours and gain real-world professional experience in an ecolodge, most of the ecolodges are either closed or are at minimum capacity, hence not providing an ideal learning experience for the students.

The INOGO team also learned of other key issues affecting the students, the CTP, and the ecolodges. The students’ most immediate needs are having access to local jobs, validation that vocational training has value within the local economy, and the self-confidence to both use and improve their English skills. The school’s needs include more dynamic English language instruction as well as increased collaborations with local ecolodges. Finally, the needs for the local business sector include employees with a strong working knowledge of English, an understanding of the seriousness of industry responsibilities, and better knowledge of a specialty within the hospitality industry.

Based on research from INOGO Phase I, as well as from what was learned in recent meetings in San José and Puerto Jiménez, INOGO is currently discussing the possibility of collaborating with the CTP Puerto Jiménez as early as this October on their internship program. We look forward to the continued dialogue with the CTP and discussions about the short- and long-term sustainability components of this pilot program.