ECONOMYNEXT – The state-run Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management has opened a hospitality training facility in the northern city of Jaffna to train youth in the former war zone to take up jobs in the rapidly growing hotel industry.
Dozens of new hotels have opened up in the northern region in the recent past and many more are under construction at present, the Ministry of Tourism Development said in a statement.
“However the hotel industry in the region has been faced with a dilemma due to the acute shortage of trained personnel to operate these hotels at an acceptable standard.”
Fifty students including 10 females have already enrolled for courses at SLITHM Jaffna, set up to counter the shortage of trained hospitality industry personnel.
SLITHM Jaffna has commenced academic operations with a Hospitality Apprenticeship Course aimed at attracting unemployed youth to the tourism industry, joining hands with World University Service Canada to conduct these classes.
“It is a well-known fact that unemployment is high in the north. At the same time hotels are finding it difficult to recruit qualified people to work in their hotels. This is a situation that requires urgent attention,” said Minister of Tourism Development, John Amaratunga who mooted the idea of setting up a SLITHM training facility in Jaffna.
“The youth in the area do not favour travelling to the south to obtain training. This is understandable. Given this scenario the best thing we could do to address this issue is to reach out to them.”
In the recent past SLITHM has identified demand for human resources especially in popular and new tourist destinations and established training facilities at these locations.
In line with this policy new training schools have been established in Hambantota, Passikudah, Negombo and Polonnaruwa in the recent past and now in Jaffna, the ministry said.
“The opening of the SLITHM training facility in Jaffna is consistent with our policy of setting up hotel schools in popular tourism destinations,” said Sunil Dissanayake, SLITHM chairman.
“This is a concept of the Minister of Tourism who, given the current shortage of trained hospitality personnel, believes that it is better for us to go where there is demand rather than expecting the youth to come to us.
“This policy has worked for us and SLITHM is proud to say that our combined annual student output will double from 3000 to 6000 from this year.”
The present temporary facility will make way for a fully-fledged hotel school that is to open in January 2018.
It will conduct courses in hotel front office, food and beverage, professional cookery, hotel housekeeping, pastry and bakery, National Tourist Guide courses and language courses.
(COLOMBO, October 27, 2017)