By Jimoh Babatunde
For tourism to eventually take its rightful place and compete favourably at the international level, the issue of manpower training, retraining and development of the workforce must be taken very seriously.
The Director General, National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism, Mrs. Chika Balogun, made this assertion during the Hospitality and Tourism Stakeholders summit organized by her institute in Abuja during the week.
She said as a way of providing a platform for human capital development in the hospitality and tourism industry that the institute will come up with a new training curriculum just as they have plan for online courses.
“I think we need to get people who have technical knowhow in writing tourism curriculum to review what we already have and to review it to suit our template. Sometimes, you borrow from overseas; it might work for them but not for us.
Chika Balogun added “We are planning to go online with some of our programs, as some people are challenged from finding time out of work to taking other hours of lectures, but if it is online, you will find a lot of people even for one hour every night log and are able to do what they want to do.”
So in the first six months of next year, we will have a complete curriculum. I gave them a time line that by July we should be able to put up an advert that we now have a new curriculum. So we are hopeful that this is achievable and also get the online running.”
Chika Balogun, while commending the products of the institute, said her job as the CEO is to find the diamond and gold in the institute and marry them with experts who know hospitality and tourism better than they are presently.
“My staff needs to be retrained; we will get resource persons from the best training institutes all over the world. We already have a MoU with Utali College in Kenya and that will be looked into again.”
Speaking on the level of training equipment at the institute’s training schools, she said they are not as bad as people think, “my mind tells me that the people don’t just know how to use them and so dumped them somewhere. I saw in one of the schools industrial mixer that was dumped.”
NIHOTOUR, she said, will acquire a state of the art training hotel with travel/tour operational services for trainees to acquire hands-on-skills, she said funding might be a problem but quickly added that they don’t need to rely on government all the time.
“We must be able to look inward on what to do to generate income and from there begin to repair or buy some of the equipment we need to get. We will also partner with private sector and also look for grants.“
Mrs. Chika Balogun explained that the essence of the summit was to engage with the private sector and other stakeholders in the tourism industry; re-evaluate training policy as it affects the industry and seek to clearly define NIHOTOUR roles and objective in the development of manpower training programmes for management and work force in the Tourism and Hospitality Industry.
“I do believe in engagement, in any business, communication and engagement is critical. Since I came I have not had the opportunity to meet a large number of the stakeholder.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Edem Duke, has charged stake-holders in the tourism industry not to take the backstage in public discourse as he urged them to form advocacy group.
He said when multiple taxation was the issue in India, the stakeholders got together to determine the election of those who will run the tourism industry, “we must not take the backstage here too and say we are frustrated by the different tiers of governments in the country.”