A committed workforce is needed to ensure the tourism industry stays afloat and this is most crucial for those with a sense of taste to lay out a perfect meal for the discerning traveller that steps on the shores of Sri Lanka, hoteliers and travel industry experts highlighted these points to a gathering of principals [...]

Business Times

Hoteliers search state schools for new recruits


A committed workforce is needed to ensure the tourism industry stays afloat and this is most crucial for those with a sense of taste to lay out a perfect meal for the discerning traveller that steps on the shores of Sri Lanka, hoteliers and travel industry experts highlighted these points to a gathering of principals from schools across the country.

Conducted by the Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL), principals of about 200 schools were invited this week to participate in a knowledge sharing session with two panel discussions held to brief them of the opportunities available in the tourism industry and the scope for prospective job seekers leaving the state schools.

Famed Chef Dr. T. Publis Silva of Mt. Lavinia Hotel clearly sent the word out to the visiting principals when he said that he has become today a person the industry cannot do without.

Inspiring the educators further he impressed upon them how his education of upto fourth standard got him this far to hold a doctorate as a Chef and become one of the celebrated chefs the world has produced.

He insisted, “Principals, encourage your children. This is a job to be proud of.” Chef Publis added that food preparation was not something one could learn but noted that it required commitment.

The educators were highly impressed with his views that their applause – the only one for any panelist present during the two panel sessions – resonated the walls of the Shangri-La Ballroom and their hurried readiness to take down his contact number was equally obvious. Mt. Lavinia Hotel has been willing to provide an awareness campaign and training programme free of charge to the students and would do so at any school on invitation, he said.

THASL President Sanath Ukwatte stated that the association together with the Education Ministry has already addressed over 500 principals and deputy principals at different forums, to create awareness on the hotel industry and the tourism industry and to make them understand the career opportunities available to the young men and women in the hotel sector.

“We consider this event as a valuable opportunity because we, as stakeholders, are collectively addressing the challenges facing our industry at this moment of time, and it is for all of us to ensure that we achieve success. Each of us has an allotted role to play in this exercise,” he said.

In 2017, the total contribution from travel and tourism for employment in the country including direct and indirect was 11 per cent with total employment at 875,000 jobs. In terms of supply (inventory) growth, it is forecasted that with another 6500 rooms expected to come in to operation by 2020, over 100,000 direct job opportunities will be created.

Luxury Villas and Hotel Management Chairman and former THASL President Anura Lokuhetty addressing the gathering said that this was an industry that offered numerous opportunities for the youth.

It was a sector that requires experience and that employees who join the industry as a waiter could one day rise to become a General Manager or even an owner of a hotel.

He also pointed out that management trainees joining the hotel trade were able to rise up the ladder and create success stories.

Education Ministry Additional Secretary S. Lokuliyanage said that the ministry would ensure that the requirement for more tourism specific subjects be introduced at the sixth standard.

He noted that it was important to link up the students with the job market and ensure they understand the requirements in these sectors.
Tourism specialist Srilal Miththapala spoke of the wrong perceptions that the industry had created in the eyes of the villagers adding that hotels and villages should be engaged more closely.

He noted that in this respect, hotels should be places students from schools should be able to visit to understand how these institutions function and what goes on there.

Director/ General Manager Jetwing Blue Hyacinth Gunawardena spoke of women’s participation in the hotel industry and explained that females have better security at a hotel than in working as a maid in West Asia.

She pointed out that in fact the opportunities available were immense and said that there were no night shifts and they were provided transport home.

Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Chairman Kavan Ratnayaka said that as per the plans by the government they needed to engage in popularising authentic tourism in the country.

“I’m approached for visas for specialists in the field to work here,” he said adding that however, he would ensure that these experts would visit the country for only about three years and train locals to take on the job. “This industry is seriously short of people,” he said.

Moreover, he pointed out that in future students would not run behind politicians for jobs but be chased by these types of institutions seeking new employees to join their industries adding that the tourism industry would face a “crisis” in about two years’ time.

Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (SLITHM) Chairman Sunil Dissanayake said that students with Ordinary Level could also obtain employment at the hotels but they preferred those with Advanced Level in addition to knowledge of the English language.

He pointed out that students could be asked to earn some extra cash while working during the holidays at hotels close to their school that would effectively provide the stepping stone to a career in the hotel industry.

Mr. Dissanayake also explained that these types of workshops were necessary to create awareness among students of the job preferences in future and thereby bridge the gap between those selected and not selected to universities.

Some of the principals present at the workshop highlighted the fact that some of the extra vocational curriculum did not have the necessary subjects to educate students in the tourism sector.

One school from Ratnapura was said to have 28 students that were right now obtaining training in the hotel industry through the assistance of hotel schools in the area. It was highlighted that the private sector should get together with the schools to find jobs for their students.

As the third largest foreign exchange earner and the second largest net foreign exchange earner in the country, tourism has played a pivotal role in generating a significant number of direct and indirect employment. With its well defining competitive attributes, analysts noted that it is regrettable that contemporary youth are unaware of the true potential and seamless opportunities offered by the hotel sector, leading to a formidable challenge in attracting the local youth to enter the industry and reap myriads of benefits.

Share This Post


Advertising Rates

Please contact the advertising office on 011 - 2479521 for the advertising rates.