Current state of affairs in hospitality education

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Current state of affairs in hospitality education

This article first appeared  in the hospitality journal, the Hospitality Biz, August 2019 edition. Reproducing the article here with due credits to the magazine.

Hospitality management courses are offered as degree programmes, diplomas, as a part of polytechnical education or a degree/diploma course offered by an Indian institute in collaboration with a foreign University. There are many reputed institutes in the country offering quality education and great placements to their graduates. But the picture is not this perfect always, there are various reasons for it such as – when selecting a college or a programme students are not fully aware of what they are getting into. There isn’t enough awareness about these courses in India. Often the students who are pursuing them are not here because they want to work in the hospitality industry but that they didn’t get into the discipline of their choice. First preference being medicine or engineering, now courses such as BBA and BMS are popular too. Hospitality Industry is glamorized and expectations of the students are not realistic. The work culture of the hotels comes more like a shock to them when they are exposed to the industry during their internship as a part of their curriculum. Some of them decide against working in hotels and some quit in the second year itself soon after their internship, as they don’t find the work environment or serving people exciting.

There are many new colleges mushrooming; some lack the basic infrastructure or facilities to offer quality education. Some have huge advertisement budgets and are able to attract students. Some colleges lure students with a tie-up with foreign universities; sometimes the credentials of these universities are questionable. After completing the course the students do not find suitable employment. Only a few good institutes have managed to provide 100% quality placements. Moreover, many are of the opinion that Indian hospitality education needs new perspectives to match with the best in the world.

Hotels feel that the students are not trained for the work pressures of the industry and lack necessary skills required for the job; also that the syllabus is not updated accordingly. This makes hotels invest in their training programmes such as the Management Training or Operational Training programmes. In spite of all these efforts, there is attrition.

The work conditions are very different in hotels, where staff has to work in shifts, work on holidays and forgo most of their social commitments. Some don’t find this pattern of work conducive. They try to get into other industries or in the same sector that gives them flexibility of working hours and also a higher salary. Some quit the industry to pursue an MBA with the hope of finding better job opportunities. The hotel industry loses trained manpower and their basic learning in hospitality is not utilised. With many MBAs at the market place, finding good employment opportunity is difficult and this cycle continues. Being a counselor for students I understand their dilemma. Hence, this topic is apt for deliberations.

The industry has changed manifold when it comes to the rooms and facility design, amenities, technology and better trained manpower. If a student joins the industry after a Masters degree or a higher diploma in culinary the industry doesn’t have different positions to offer to them. This could be one of the reasons why students don’t pursue higher studies in hospitality but take up a more viable option such as an MBA. This is an area of concern- why should we train people in hotel operations and then make them sell holidays or other consumer goods when actually there is a huge demand of skilled manpower in the industry?

Many professionals and leaders in hospitality have observed that there is a gap between hotel industry and the college curriculum, in industry expectations and those of the hospitality Management students. Majority of students don’t do their home work before selecting the college or the programme. It is the first step, if not taken with enough research; can lead to a bad foundation and ultimately not getting the desired results. They get lured to the glamour and professional image of the hospitality sector and accordingly have their expectations very high. Hospitality industry is rapidly changing and the college curriculum should meet the industry requirements. Thus it’s important to create a bridge between the four components of hospitality education namely; the Universities/ Boards/ technical bodies, the colleges, the hotels as potential employers and the students of this discipline.

We have been able to create a great model at Apeejay Institute of Hospitality, the learning centre of The Park Hotels that shares it’s premises with the Park Navi Mumbai. Likewise with efforts from all stakeholders; colleges can create benchmarks in education by instilling the right mindsets and attitudes among the new hospitality professionals.

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