The Ugostiteljsko-turisticka (hospitality and tourism) school in Belgrade is a secondary vocational school with a 78 year long tradition of educating students to meet the demand for workers in tourism and hospitality. As well as teaching theory in classrooms, the school prides itself on its ability to teach practical skills in professional settings, which prepare students for employment. 

Jelena Šalipurović, Assistant Principal in Ugostiteljsko-turisticka School in Belgrade, has written about how the school meets students’ needs.

The school offers three European Qualitifications Framework level four courses, which prepare students to become tourism technicians, hospitality technicians or culinary technicians; and three European Qualifications Framework level 3 courses train students to become chefs, waiters or pastry chefs.

The school provides modern education through classroom teaching, practical training, professional work experience and internships for about 1,200 students. Practical classes are held in specialised classrooms equipped with cooking utensils, a restaurant dining hall, a bar, and a reception desk where students can practice. 

Cooking classes, for example, are organised in such a way that students first learn about the ingredients of a dish and gain theoretical knowledge about how the dish is prepared. Then they watch the teacher’s demonstration; seeing, smelling and tasting the dish. The next step is participation in preparing the dish with the teacher’s assistance. After this, the students are acquainted with the methods of cooking the dish, and are ready to practice.

Apart from providing work experience and practical training in other organisations, the school also organises practical classes in their school workshop, the Palace Hotel.

The Palace Hotel is a 4-star hotel situated in the centre of Belgrade. It is also a school workshop. This is unique in Serbia, and perhaps throughout the region. The hotel-come-school-workshop is a great educational resource because students are able to practice and work while they are supervised by teachers and trainers, who give them instructions, observe their work, discretely correct their mistakes and encourage them to become more skilled. On the one hand, students practice in a controlled environment, and on the other hand, they work in a real hotel with restaurant guests. In this way, students gain confidence and gradually become more independent. This is particularly important to students with special educational needs because the school employs staff familiar with the difficulties that each student faces.

In travel agency and hotel operations classes, students learn about business operations and different aspects of work in travel agencies and at the reception desk in a hotel. In order to be fully prepared for future work and to be able to meet clients’ demands, students visit museums, galleries, exhibitions, travel agencies, train and bus stations, airports, and tourism and gastronomy fairs, accompanied by their teachers. Special attention is also paid to learning foreign languages and students are encouraged to create presentations about different places of interest in English and in French, German, or Russian. In the third and fourth years of study, students organise excursions and short trips with only a little help from their teachers.

The Ugostiteljsko-turisticka school recognises the importance of practical training and work experience for finding future employment.

They cooperate with numerous hotels, restaurants and travel agencies, where students have the opportunity to practice in real world environments. Unfortunately, students can not be paid for the work they do. Nevertheless, they are usually motivated to acquire practical training and work experience in these organisations because of the possibility of receiving job recommendations or even employment for when they finish school.

The staff of the Ugostiteljsko-turisticka school are devoted to motivating students to learn more and broaden their minds through various extra-curricular activities, such as the drama club, sports club and poetry reading. Every year students are encouraged take part in sport, foreign languages, history, and literature competitions, as well as national and regional competitions in their professional subjects, where they achieve remarkable results. Students of the school won 18 gold medals in the last competition organised by the Union of Hospitality and Tourism Workers in Serbia.

The Ugostiteljsko-turisticka school has been a leader in education in the field of tourism and hospitality in Serbia for decades. When they graduate, students are prepared to work in hotels, cafes, restaurants, and travel agencies. You can find them not only in Serbia, but in different countries all over the world.