Preparing our students for post-COVID19 Hospitality Business is the need of the hour and though education is still going on and educators are working tirelessly, are we focusing on what's next post this pandemic?
One needs to amend the curriculum and approach towards the Hospitality Management Education, irrespective of issuance of a guideline from the education department/ministry/university. This will not only enable our students to look for better career prospects in the coming year, which will be more competitive than before. Talking about more workshops/ seminars could eventually prove to be a superficial effort in the absence of on-ground execution and amendment into the learning experience and study material being delivered to the youngsters. Motivational speeches, government plans, business houses' strategies, everything is being discussed on a big platform, however, students are being left with very vague advice of polishing their skills. Which skills to be specific? Would there be an emergence of a completely new set of skills post this pandemic? How can we assert and act upon that? There are several questions like these that demand immediate and to the point answers.
Is there any brainstorming that is happening for that? Pardon my ignorance, if at all, but unfortunately, I don't see any! That is not just disappointing but very naive of us, the hospitality education professionals to not address this issue. Are we content with participating in webinars and delivering online learning platforms? Don't take me wrong, for I do not intend to put these efforts on a lower pedestal. But most of us educators, have been professional hoteliers, and we didn't use to face a challenge with this approach. Why have we lowered down our guards? Look how the industry is gearing up - FMCG gains have already amended how their interaction with HoReCa industry. They have already started focusing on encashing the opportunity of the rise in home cooking with big brands like Amul going live through social media platforms with cooking sessions multiple times a day, garnering millions of views. All Hyatt hotels will now have a Hygiene Manager to maintain the hotel's cleanliness. Restaurants in NewYork have come up with a beautiful concept of GreenHouse Pods for ensuring social distancing the same has been presented as a unique experience. All this is applauded worthy, but let us not limit our homework to finding out this news and applaud for that. We have to identify the areas of our curriculum, teaching methodology, and industrial exposure that need adaptions to be more relevant in the post COVID19 world. We can not be taking a backseat right now and wait for the Industry to polish the young professionals we handover to them. It is not the right thing to do, not just morally but strategy-wise too. A student who was planning to join hospitality education is already convinced about the future is uncertain and probably has started to look for job profiles that will see a boom in the post-pandemic era. Wouldnt it will be wise of us to arrange for an updated learning experience that makes them more suitable for the future and thus to be able to lure them back to looking for a bright career in Hospitality?
We all classify the job opportunities in this field in four broad categories namely - Front Office Management, Housekeeping Management, Food & Beverage Management, and Food Production. Indeed the adaption in the curriculum has to be based on these categorizations. One will have to look into providing the students aiming for a career in F & B or Food Production with some sort of training and certification that makes them more aware of the best practices of hygiene and sanitation to be followed as food handlers. HACCP, FSSAI certifications, and training can be our answer to that. For people opting Housekeeping, prospects are going to be abundant, as more and more organizations, hospitals, malls, complexes, corporate offices, etc. are now going to look for professional housekeepers. We can arrange for a special industrial exposure-based learning program and certification that enables them to prove equipped with the required knowledge and skills for the coming boom. With the shift in MNCs and manufacturing giants of the world's interest towards India as a substitute to China because of anti-Chinese sentiment prevailing across the globe, the earning pattern of inbound tourism may see a change as well. In recent years, nearly 80 percent of inbound tourism spending has been by leisure tourists and 20 by business tourists. This statistic will most definitely see a more balanced figure in the coming few years. I recommend a special learning program for students pursuing a career in FO in secretarial services that will enrich their resume and profile with a skill set not many current professionals in the industry have had an opportunity to polish.
Similarly, students interested in the tourism sector's jobs may find it helpful to acquaint themselves with not just itinerary planning, transportation arrangement, and similar skills, but with thorough knowledge of hygiene and sanitation practices or measures of various places like hotels, restaurants, and even remote locations.
Our guest relation practices have always been curated keeping in mind the international travelers, even though earlier the contribution of domestic travelers was significantly higher, with 70 percent, It is time that education sector starts making the young aspirants aware of cultural sensitivity required within our own country for we are a huge country with one of the most diverse demographic, cultural and geographical aspects.
We are doing a great job of keeping the learning going on. Now it is time for SWOT analysis and coming up with an action plan that is coherent and achievable. We are educators and we need to shine the brightest, for it is our light that illuminates the world and not the other way around.
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