Qualified Workforce Key To Recovery Of Tourism, Hospitality Players

For tourism and hospitality sector, recovery after COVID-19 pandemic will depend on how well qualified the workforce is. The need for highly qualified professionals who possess top-notch technical and conceptual skills has never been critical as it is now, especially in the tourism and hospitality sector where each player requires a strong come-back strategy. The industry, which is the world’s most significant economic, social and environmental force, has been hit hard by the pandemic, with the cancellation of air travel by most countries, and restriction of road travel and all recreational activities. All these and more measures that are aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 have brought the sector to near halt, an industry which in 2018 employed about 319 million workers (direct and indirect employment), according to World Travel and Tourism Council. In Africa, and specifically Kenya, the tourism industry had begun growing at a very fast rate, and was gaining popularity as a long-haul destination. In 2019 international arrivals were up 1.2 per cent to 2,048,834 in Kenya. International tourism earnings were up 3.9 percent in 2019 contributing KSh163 billion.

Core Competencies
Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) addresses skills deficiency across all industries by equipping the graduates with core competencies and relevant skills. In order to develop the right skills and knowledge, and apply them appropriately, the industry, curriculum developers and institutions of higher learning should collaborate. Training institutions and curriculum developers should involve the industry in curriculum development and delivery on a continuous basis. The industry should give continuous feedback to curriculum developers and training institutions. Employers need to also employ and retain the best talent by offering well-aligned career development opportunities and competitive remuneration

The case of Kenya Utalii College
Underscoring the economic and social significance of tourism and hospitality, and the need for workforce capacity building, the Kenyan Government in collaboration with the Swiss government established Kenya Utalii College in 1975 to develop special skilled manpower for the industry. Kenya Utalii College is a leading hospitality and tourism school. Support by the Kenya Government and hospitality industry players and stakeholders is proof of the key role the institution plays in capacity building for the Hospitality and Tourism sector in Kenya and ultimately positioning of Kenya as a brand internationally. The quality of training at Kenya Utalii College has seen the College receive global recognition as a center of excellence by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Aligned training infrastructure The highly practical oriented training institution is well-equipped with training infrastructure. The training kitchens are fitted with top-quality equipment, and this allows lecturers to orient students to the best in the industry. Additionally, the college has a training reception, languages laboratory, a demonstration kitchen and individual stove kitchens as well as demonstration restaurants and bar. A
fully-fledged, well equipped premier training hotel – with 57 rooms and 100 beds, restaurants, bar and restaurant as well as gym and Spa strengthen the practical exposure students receive during the course of their study at Kenya Utalii College.

Training model
The College offers a holistic practical oriented curriculum comprising knowledge, skills and attitudes to meet evolving industry needs. Theory covers 21 per cent training exposure, hands-on training stands at 62 percent, while industry exposure (attachment) is 17 per cent. For industry exposure, which runs for a period of three to six months, the College connects students to reputable establishments. Technical and practical skills are evaluated at each stage to test and enhance their competence. Training at the college is conducted by highly qualified faculty. Emphasis on soft skills is given prominence at the college as the industry evolves into an experiential economy where guests are looking for quality experience. Having a multilingual ability gives the graduates an added advantage in the competitive labor market. To fit in the global market, the College offers foreign languages in Chinese, Japanese, Italian, German, Spanish, and French. The College is in the process of introducing new languages based on industry needs and trends.

Strong, highly qualified faculty
A big percentage of teaching personnel at the college possess post-graduate qualifications, with strong technical qualifications and skills. The faculty is continuously exposed to the hospitality and tourism industry through industrial linkages and engagements. Capacity building is done through summer courses in reputable hospitality and tourism institutions abroad. There are also lots of faculty-led quality student activities to showcase and assess competencies, which include group consultancy projects on real life cases, regular food fairs, participation in key industry events and academic tours.

Industry collaborations
Through the Kenya Utalii College and Tourism Industry Liaison Committee (TI/KUC), the College maintains a close linkage with the industry. The College works very closely with the industry – from admission interviews to in-training of students (industrial attachment). It is during the in-training that the industry gets an opportunity to evaluate the competence of the students and ensure training alignment to industry needs. The TI/KUC committee plays a key role in curriculum development and implementation as well as capacity building forums through Refresher Courses, Management Development Programmes (MDP) and National Tourism Competitions (NTC). The college has a vibrant Alumni Association who provide linkages to the industry and emerging trends that inform curriculum development.

The job market is going through major changes and the playfield will present different scenarios post COVID-19. Institutions of Higher Learning, especially in Hospitality and Tourism will have to collaborate closely with the industry to align the curriculum with the skills requirements. Continuous capacity training and development schemes for staff to be at par with the market and demonstrate a greater commitment to career development is also crucial.

Article written by Tabitha Areba : Marketing & Communications Manager, Kenya Utalii College

For The Love Of Our Customers

The tourism and hospitality sector in Kenya has quickly picked up after a great slump as a result of the effects of Covid-19. When Covid-19