By Cheranka Mendis
The Harpo’s and OLAK School of Hospitality and Tourism Management was launched last week to fulfill the skilled human resources requirement of the fast growing tourism sector.
It will conduct the Confederation of Tourism and Hospitality (CTH) modules in Sri Lanka in three to six month courses and one year diploma course. The students will receive soft skills theory and practical training and an internationally recognised qualification at the end of it. It is the first time CTH is endorsing a local certificate.
Starting March 2011, the courses initially offered will be in F&B service, housekeeping, front office, basic cookery and even event management. “We need top class people as this is a dire need in society. As the private sector we feel that this need must be fulfilled and therefore the school is established,” Harpo Gunaratne said.
He added that to wow people, the training and understanding must start at the grass root level – schools. The subject of ‘tourism’ must be introduced to the school curriculum either as a subject for the O/L or the A/L examination, he said.
Managing Director of the OLAK Group Ranjeewa Kulatunga stated that OLAK was a high target, well-recognised institute where they “churn and deliver skilled and competent persons”.
The School of Hospitality and Tourism Management will deliver a triple qualification for its students, Kulatunga said. “There is the CTH qualification, best recognised in the commonwealth, and then the IIM qualification from India and our very own OLAK qualification. With this the students and their qualifications will be recognised worldwide.”
The initiative was welcomed by Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman Dr. Nalaka Godahewa as well. He said that to achieve the desired high levels of tourist arrivals as well as foreign exchange skilled human resource is critical.
“Our service levels must be comparable with the best in the world,” he added.
Dr. Godahewa estimated that Sri Lanka would need 50,000- 200,000 skilled people to run the industry in the future.
“In that context a hotel school producing skilled persons is vital for the sector. There is very big demand for quality people. Private sector must come in and I hope that this venture between Harpo and OLAK will be the start of more such hospitality schools which would produce quality people,” the Sri Lanka Tourism Chief asserted.