Service with a smile

Service with a smile

The boom in the tourism industry in the last decade has been the jump start for hospitality management in the country. But why was it previously unable to attract the required number of students to pursue a career in this field? Experts believe that in the hierarchy of career options, the service industry has, for many years, figured last on the list.

But that was until 1999. With  the growth in business outsourcing, the customer has become king and the service industry has zoomed its way to the top. The hospitality sector now caters to banks, event management firms, airlines, education and retail businesses apart from individuals.
Sudhir Andrews, Dean of Ecole Hotelier Lavasa in Pune, says: “Close to 40 per cent of hotel management students in the country become entrepreneurs.”

The climb, rung by rung
There are four entry points in the hospitality management sector, each of which defines the limitations and prospects in this profession.
Apprentice courses: This is also called the Crafts level. Every state has a Food & Crafts institute. The course is usually for six months in the classroom followed by a six-month internship programme.
Hotel Management programmes: This is a three-year diploma, wherein students are groomed for supervisory roles.
Finishing schools: If the job requires further sharpening of skills, there are one-year finishing schools.

Management trainee programmes: This is for managers.

Sharpen your skills
The skills required to be successful in this line are a mix of hard and soft skills.
Technical skills are hard skills that a student learns during the course like culinary skills or accounting and house keeping skills.
Soft skills such as communication and networking, and developing the ability to work in a team are equally important.

According to Andrews, the hospitality industry contributes 5.8 per cent to India’s GDP.  The sector is all set to touch USD 250 billion in the next ten years. But there is still a huge gap between demand and supply when it comes to qualified people.
“The industry is yet to recognise the need for finishing schools in hospitality management. Lately, colleges have been producing poor quality professionals and youngsters are being forced into a career that is not their first choice,” says Andrews, listing the reasons for the demand-supply mismatch.
The hospitality industry is willing to pay anything for good quality resources these days. A fresh graduate can expect a starting salary of Rs 30,000 at a five star hotel.
The downside

But the long and demanding working hours and the shift system can be tedious. Unsatisfied customers and their irate moods are a regular feature in this industry. But hospitality management professionals consider these challenges as opportunities. With growth in the industry pegged at 15 per cent every year, we can be sure to see many changes too. With the tremendous shortage of skilled and talented personnel, hotels are looking to open up their own schools to build their capacity.

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