Sanju Dissanayake CEO of Thames College
Thames College having held its convocation for graduates in the Hospitality and Tourism principles was the first ever international professional qualification in these fields in Sri Lanka.
The initiative aims to raise the profile of the hospitality and tourism industries and expose young people to the tremendous wealth of career options which exist providing a range of education and work experience opportunities.
Thames College, in collaboration with the Confederation of Tourism & Hospitality Management (CTH-UK), has taken up the challenge in creating an agenda for kick-starting employment opportunities for young people and streamlining the transition between school, college, university and work. Importantly, the College also aims to raise standards across the hospitality and tourism industries by providing young people with the appropriate skills and attitudes to meet employer needs. They will have the unique opportunity of accessing academic knowledge and practical skills in ways that will equip them with the best chance of securing the best jobs.
Sanju Dissanayake, CEO of Thames College explained, "Hospitality and tourism are critical to the Sri Lankan economy. In some areas of the country hospitality and tourism standards are lacking in training and knowledge. Sri Lanka has wonderful food, a stunning landscape and a rich cultural heritage, but all too often we let ourselves down with our service delivery. If Sri Lanka wants to be a world-class tourism destination, we need to equip a new generation of young people with the right skills with a fresh approach. Through our College, we will promote the attitude that service excellence is the only acceptable standard."
Replying to queries on the rising demand for these qualifications, she asserted, "Most young people and their parents don't view the hospitality and tourism industries as a first destination career choice - it's more often a stop-gap job until something better comes along. We might hear of the 'straight A' student who aspires to being a doctor or a lawyer, but it's not often that young people specify they want to be a tour, restaurant or hotel manager or even a hotel receptionist. Thames & CTH wants to increase awareness of the full range of roles within the industries, as well as the career progression, transferable skills and travel opportunities."
Replying to the question of the value of such programs, she answered, "In today's climate, young people need to leave school with more than qualifications. They need skills for learning, life and work which - in today's competitive climate - employers are increasingly demanding. The CTH has built a curriculum with the feedback from their industry partners which includes employability skills, relevant and high quality customer service skills and business mentoring as well as gaining high standard qualifications.
The shared teaching with CTH - UK also allows young people to experience college and university when just out of school which will raise their aspirations and enable them to make educated career choices which are right for them as individuals."
She continued, "We are delighted that some of our country's most prominent hoteliers, as well as the international hotel groups, are in agreement with the College. Their contribution in offering industry knowledge will be invaluable. They are also vital in helping us bring the hospitality and tourism industries to life for the young people.
By offering work placements and providing industry professionals to speak about their roles, they play an important part in inspiring and informing pupils about the opportunities in, and scale of, the hospitality and tourism industries, not only in Sri Lanka but also globally."
She also stressed, "We know thousands of jobs will be created in Sri Lanka's vital hospitality and tourism industry in the coming years. By offering training and work experience to young people at this crucial stage in their life, Thames College is not only helping to build lasting careers but is also providing the skilled workforce businesses will need to meet future demand.
The Academy will not only prepare them for this challenge, but will offer these students a brighter future."
Published on www.dailynews.lk