Tourist sector on quest to boost staff skills
Tourist sector on quest to boost staff skills, Vietnam’s hotel and travel industry is launching a tourism skills assessment centre in a bid to raise hospitality standards in the country.
The programme is being funded by the EUR12-mil Vietnam Human Resources Development in Tourism project.
According to Vu Quoc Tri, co-director of the project, the centre in Hanoi will evaluate the skills of entry-level staff in the hotel and travel industry. They will be tested on 13 areas of their work, ranging from housekeeping and front-office skills to food production and knowledge of local geography.
The centres will be the mainstay of the National Recognition System that offers industry-based, on-the-job training to internationally agreed standards, followed by a nationally recognised examination and certification.
"It will allow employees in hotels and travel agencies, who have received little or no formal vocational training, to be officially recognised for their skills and performance, thereby enhancing their job mobility, career path and earning capacity," said Tri.
Each centre will be equipped with modern training equipment valued at around EUR800,000.
To begin with, the centres will be housed within major hotels and tourism schools in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Vung Tau City in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Hue Vietnam.
In addition, hotels and travel agencies will be able to apply to become assessment centres. The project has already received a lot of interest from tourism companies.
Dr Nguyen Manh Hung, from Ho Chi Minh City’s Nguyen Tat Thanh College, said exiting college courses did not offer enough practical training and were unreasonably expensive.
Nguyen Hong Sang, director of Can Tho Province’s Ninh Kieu Hotel, said his company spends VND50mil re-training graduates from tourism colleges each year.
"But the results are not totally satisfactory. The board of directors is always complaining about the time the enterprise must spend re-training these college graduates," said Sang.
Sang suggested the best way to save time and money would be for students to work part-time in the travel industry. It would not only tackle the problem of worker shortage but also equip students with the practical skills they need, he said.
Nguyen Dinh Thanh, deputy director of the VITOUR Company suggested students apply for free training courses offered by NGOs.
Phan Thi Man, a fourth-grade student of tourism at Ha Noi University of Social Science and Humanities, said work experience in the hospitality sector was invaluable. However, she said unscrupulous employees often took advantage of their interns, fobbing them off with meaningless jobs such as delivering leaflets.
"My worry is that college syllabuses don’t relate to the workplace," said Mai Thi, a tourism student at Ha Noi Trade University. "In addition, students’ foreign language skills and computer literacy do not meet the requirements of the job."
Travel firms are missing out because they don’t have enough workers with foreign-language skills, said Nguyen Minh Quyen, the deputy director of Ben Thanh Tourism Department. He said there was a desperate need for tour guides who speak German, Japanese and Korean. Holiday makers from these countries account for 30% of all foreign visitors.
La Quoc Khanh, the deputy director of Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Department, said the hospitality sector was losing money because of a shortage of foreign-language speakers.
The number of graduates working in the tourism sector, which has around one million employees, is currently 3.1%, a tourism conference in Ho Chi Minh City announced. However, the graduates’ skills rarely meet the industry’s requirements, the conference said.
Between 25.5-26.2mil tourists are expected to visit Vietnam this year.
(Source: Viet Nam News)