Kenya Utalii College And Its Recipe To Success

Tabitha Areba | 15th June, 2021

The quality of training at Kenya Utalii College has seen the College receive global recognition as a center of excellence for United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and a member of EUHOFA group of global leading hospitals schools.

One of the world’s most significant economic, social and environmental forces is tourism and hospitality. Additionally, in Africa, tourism is growing at a very fast rate. This implies that Africa is gaining popularity as a long-haul destination. A recent World Bank Publication noted that tourism can be a powerful and meaningful development path for Africa. With effective planning and development, it has been projected that Africa’s tourism industry could create millions of jobs every year.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, in 2018, the industry employed 319 million workers (including direct and indirect employment) and contributed USD8.8 trillion to the Global economy (10.4% of the global GDP). In Kenya, Tourism development is not only a pillar for national development, but also most importantly a mechanism to alleviate poverty, generate foreign exchange for the country and contribute to wildlife conservation.

Labour challenges

Despite the positive outlook, the industry is facing a significant talent shortage, which is impacting negatively on its performance. The huge skills gap is occasioned by inappropriate training model adopted by most hospitality and tourism training institutions. As a result, graduates lack the necessary skills and competencies suitable for the industry. This is despite an upsurge in the institutions of higher learning offering hospitality and tourism training.  The widening skills gap points to a disconnect between what training institutions offer and industry labour demands.

To effectively achieve its mandate, the tourism and hospitality industry requires a large number of employees who possess top-notch technical skills required to service the growing number of both local and international visitors. These guests need good care of in all aspects – from housekeeping service, food and beverage as well as tour and travel guide. The workforce plays a critical role in delivering high quality customer experience.

Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) addresses skills deficiency across all industries by equipping the graduates with core competencies and relevant skills. In the ideal context, the industry and institutions of higher learning should partner in human resource development. Training institutions should involve the industry in curriculum development and delivery. This should be done on a continuous basis. The industry should also attract and retain the best talent through high quality capacity building opportunities and competitive remuneration packages.

The case of Kenya Utalii College

The economic and social significance of tourism and hospitality underscores the need for workforce capacity building. This was identified way back at independence, when Kenyan Government identified hospitality and tourism industry as one of main drivers of the national economy. Since the country was in dire need of skilled personnel to manage the infant but crucial sector, the government in collaboration with the Swiss government established Kenya Utalii College in 1975 to develop special skilled manpower for the industry. 

Utalii College Alumni Land Lucrative Jobs Abroad

The Foundation

Kenya Utalii College remains the best hospitality school south of the Sahara. The dedication of staff and students to professional excellence has never waned, about 5 decades after the Hotel Training School was put up. The support the institution has received from Kenyan Government and the hospitality industry players is a clear indicator of the key role the institution plays in capacity building for Hospitality and Tourism 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 for United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and a member of EUHOFA group of global leading hospitals schools. In addition, the College hosts the secretariat of Association of Hospitality and Tourism Schools of Africa (AHTSA). Such is the seal approval for the training offered by KUC.

Training model

The College offers a holistic Swiss-based curriculum comprising knowledge, skills and attitudes. Emphasis is on soft skills is key because the hospitality and tourism industry has evolved into an experiential economy where guests are looking for quality experience.  The college offers technical or practical skills evaluated at each stage to test their competence. Hospitality students go through demonstrations, practice in application areas and internal attachment at Utalii Hotel to deepen their practical skills. On the other hand, tourism students undertake their practical lessons through tours such as game drives or airport pickups.

The College works very closely with the industry – from admission interviews to intraining (industrial attachment). It is during the intraining that the industry gets an opportunity to evaluate the competence of the students. Through the Kenya Utalii College and Tourism Industry Liaison Committee (KUC/TI), the College maintains a close linkage with the industry. 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 and National Tourism Competition. KUC has a vibrant Alumni Association who provide linkages to the industry and emerging trends.

To fit in the global market, the College offers foreign languages such as Chinese, Japanese, Italian, German, Spanish, and French. The college is in the process of introducing new languages based on industry needs and trends. Having a multilingual ability gives the graduates an added advantage in the competitive labour market.

The Infrastructure

The practical training aspect at Kenya Utalii College is supported by training kitchens that are fitted with top-quality equipment, and this allows lecturers to familiarise students with the best in the industry. The college also has a training reception, a demonstration kitchen and languages laboratory. A fully-fledged, well equipped training hotel – with 57 rooms and 100 beds, restaurants, bar, terrace, swimming pool, two tennis courts also form part of the facilities that give students up-to-date industry exposure.

Way Forward

All Institutions of Higher Learning as well as those involved in curriculum development should collaborate closely with the industry to close the gap between education and employment. A standardized modern hospitality and tourism curriculum can be achieved when collaboration with the industry is continuous.

Tabitha Areba is a Communication and Marketing professional, currently working as a Communication and Marketing Manager at Kenya Utalii College.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *