I started my teaching career in the hotel industry before venturing out to teach in an established private hotel training institution. I found the latter much more challenging.
Training in the hotel industry
I remember taking up a part-time supervisory-trainer position in a hotel; a very old hotel located along the Atlantic Ocean in Accra. It had its unique challenges and finding solutions to those challenges were fulfilling.
As a new supervisor-trainer in the housekeeping department, I first observed the practices and working habits of the personnel, developed a good relationship with them and sought to understand their negative attitudes towards the job they were doing before attempting to meet their training needs. They had to acknowledge those needs before I could meaningfully engage them in brain storming exercises to try out ‘solutions’. Personnel became emboldened and were soon taking pride in their jobs as room attendants and public area cleaners, the former were then referred to as ‘chamber maids’.
Training in the classroom
I stepped into the classroom as a hotel instructor/educator. I had to handle students who had NEVER stepped in a hotel. There was a huge gap between the curriculum and the educational/training needs of the students. The problem was compounded when I realized that more than half of the students in a particular class were there UNWILLINGLY. Their parents/sponsors wanted ‘something’ to preoccupy them or wanted them to ‘try their hands on ‘something’; it was their last educational option.
Indeed, the challenges in this environment determined my dissertation for the award of my ‘Master of Education Degree’ in Educational Administration later on, where I investigated how low academic level students could be developed to meet the manpower requirements of hotels with ratings between 2 and 5 star.
With the above background, I deem it necessary to bring to the fore, the diverse efforts educators in the hotel/hospitality industry in Ghana continue to make to bridge the gap between the classroom and the industry. Thus my first post this year, saluting committed educators for their efforts towards preparing professionals for the industry.
A couple more preludes will be featured to serve as background for the upcoming dialogues to be held with fellow hospitality educators.