Foreseeing a quantum leap in tourist arrivals, the Tourism Ministry proposes enhancing manpower skills

Predicting an additional manpower requirement of 2.03 lakh in the hospitality sector during the 12th Plan period, the Tourism Ministry has proposed expansion of institutional infrastructure, broad-basing of hospitality education, and certification of service providers following upgrading their efficiency and skill development through short duration courses.

According to Special Secretary Sanjay Kothari, while the focus of the private sector should be on short duration courses, synergy of efforts with other ministries and organisations of Centre and State governments is required towards introduction of hospitality as vocational subject at secondary education level.

The 12th Plan (2012-17) envisages a growth of 12 per cent per annum in inbound and domestic tourist numbers. The current initiatives and the ones proposed are expected to generate 25 million additional direct and indirect jobs in the country. The FICCI-YES Bank theme paper on the issue states that the tourism sector touches a wide value chain and it is imperative that investments into and benefits garnered from the sector, spread out more widely and efficiently amongst the populace, thereby acting as a strong socio-economic enabler.

The focus will be on furthering quality capacity building in four key and ground level elements for the tourism industry: tourist guides, taxi drivers, hotels and restaurants and tour operators and travel agents. The hospitality sector is comparatively better developed with many training institutes in place. However, capacity building needs to be institutionalised for emerging options such as budget hotels, serviced apartments and restaurants and hotels in the unorganised segment to improve service levels.

Tushar Pandey, president & country head, Strategic Initiatives Government and Advisory (SIGA) Group, YES Bank Ltd., said to enhance the skills of the workforce in the travel and tourism trade, a number of initiatives would have to be undertaken by the stakeholders that include policies and guidelines that are in sync with the market. An active industry-academia alliance is one way to ensure this, while constant interaction between the industry and the government can help the policy formulation process. The assessment of training programmes is still an area of concern since while following the criteria of minimum percentage or passing grade would suffice for technical purposes, it loses its accuracy in terms of vocational education, where the purpose is ‘enabling’ instead of evaluating; the owner of the taxi stands/the operators on ground need to be roped in by the Department of Tourism in each State to train the drivers. The drivers, who often face precarious situations like accident and road blocks, also need to be trained in crisis management skills and first-aid administration.