Skill Development in Tourism & Hospitality Industry will bridge Demand & Supply Gap: Rajan Bahadur, CEO THSC

BWH’s Prerna Lamba talks in detail about the THSC collaboration with Marriott India to promote apprenticeship in the Tourism and Hospitality sector with Rajan Bahadur, Chief Executive Officer of THSC.

TODAY, INDIA churns out more graduates than most countries around the world. And the Indian job scenario is currently reeling under the twin pressure of layoffs and job paucity. While on the other hand, meeting the needs of an aspiring India in which all sections of the society seek better standards and access to education, the ruling government aims to have the largest network of working-age population in India by 2030.

Driving forward the vision of Skilled India and addressing the demand for industry-relevant workforce, Tourism & Hospitality Skill Council (THSC), recently announced its collaboration with Marriott India to promote Apprenticeship in Tourism and Hospitality sector.

As part of the collaboration, Marriott will engage 5000 apprentices through its network of 90 properties in the country. The apprentices will be provided with an opportunity to receive hands-on experience at Marriott hotels for developing broader expertise in the sector, preparing them to cater to the demands of the tourism and hospitality sector.

BWH’s Prerna Lamba talks in detail about the collaboration to promote apprenticeship in Tourism and Hospitality sector with Rajan Bahadur, Chief Executive Officer of THSC.

What are your views on the tourism and hospitality industry of the country? What are some of the hiccups that need to be addressed?

The tourism and hospitality industry, per se, has a huge potential because India as a country offers huge potential as we have the mountains, sea and everything together. From that point of view, there is huge potential and also opportunity.

While one of the biggest need is last-mile connectivity, even if you have remote areas where you're having game-changers, like AirBNB, guest houses etcetera, but the other thing is the infrastructure to get them there, not just the railways, airports, but also road transportation.

Coupled with that is the fact of treating the guest when they come in. So one is job and the other is entrepreneurship. One of the scaling curriculum that we are doing is how to make an entrepreneur. You can let out rooms in your home, but how do you treat and engage with your guests is important. Because that experience and the word of mouth are the drivers of creating further business.

Tell us about the inspiration behind signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with JW Marriott for promotion and expansion of apprenticeship?

We have done a lot of MoUs with several hotels, quick-service restaurants etcetera, and I think, in terms of share size and potential of Marriott operating over more than 91 managed properties across the country, there's a huge opportunity to start off with 5,000 odd apprentices. Marriott also has a pipeline of 60 to 70 more hotels coming up in the next three to four years and they will all require people. And through this, the skill just grows up.

The second thing is seeing pan-India MoUs like this, we have other hotels as well as other verticals that we serve and very shortly you'll be hearing from us about other verticals who are signing similar MoUs. This is really a kick start to this whole opportunity.

Can you enlighten us on the MoUs signed till date? And which all hotels will you be targeting in the future? 

We have got several, to name a few we have LemonTree, Oberoi, Taj, and OYO. And the future target is never-ending because we are talking to fast-food restaurants, more hotels, and facility management large companies like Sodexo etcetera who have a huge requirement. We are telling them what the apprenticeship programme is all about and getting them to know how it works for them as well as apprentices. And I must say that the initial response has been extremely encouraging.

How long is the apprenticeship programme projected for?

The programme varies, depending on the curriculum. It can vary from a short term programme of three to four months, upto three years. And the whole idea is to make the youth is learn and earn at the same time. As today, one of the most dangerous thing is to have skilled unemployment. The youth will not only getting the theoretical experience but also the practical experience so that by the time they do well, they already have a job in hand because the industry also requires people with skills.

One of the biggest thing is the rapid change in industry requirements, and when they're going into apprenticeship programme, by the end of it, they're ready to take on from day one. And I think that is a big step.

The other thing is that we are relooking at curriculums & qualification packs that we have to align it with the industry’ demands. We are holding workshops with industry experts to come and talk to us about their needs so that we can develop a meaningful curriculum.

Who are the key people behind designing and setting up the curriculum for apprenticeship programme?

Within Tourism and Hospitality Skill Council, we have an expert’s team who only looks at these standards and curriculums. For example, we are opening adventure tourism and we have got experts in this area who are either part of consultants or siting on a workshop, helping us, guiding us, telling us what is to be done. We are also looking at the opportunity and option of foreign collaborations, still to be done, but we're already talking to people. Foreign collaboration will extend the opportunity of an exchange programme to get global exposure.

What are your future plans to bridge the gap between demand and supply? Do you think with this apprenticeship programme, the unemployment rate will come down in the country?

We are largely an assessment organisation who works with the government to have government-approved curriculums which are then introduced to government and private institutes and then these curriculums are run there. We have the training of the trainers who train people who actually execute these curriculums.

Once, the youth goes through this, we have the apprenticeship programme and then eventually job employment because, you see, one of the most dangerous things is to have skilled unemployed youth. So it is a whole cycle that we look at. 

And addressing the second part of the question about unemployment ratio in the country, I have no doubt that is going to be in the right direction but how quickly we scale it up is something that we are looking forward to.


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