THE shortage of trained and qualified hotel sector workers in this region will soon be addressed with a new hotel school being built in Dubai.
The Dubai Hotel and Tourism Management Institute is expected to open in 2009, and is a joint venture between an internationally acclaimed Australian higher education provider and a prominent Dubai based company.
UAE headquartered, Al Hai, part of the Al Hai Group of Companies chaired by HE Jamal Al Hai, has collaborated with world leaders in hospitality and tourism education, the Blue Mountains Hotel School, an Australian based international hotel school, to bring a new hotel school to the Middlle East.
“We are very excited about this joint venture which will result in the formation of an international hotel and tourism management institute in Dubai. It will facilitate the growing needs of the industry both in terms of training existing human resources in the hotel sector and by providing quality undergraduate and postgraduate education for future hoteliers.” said Fritz Gubler, director, Blue Mountains Hotel School.
“In a market like Dubai, hotel openings are not restricted to one or two hotels, but hundreds. And the bigger question is where is the staff coming from and who is training them? What the hotels and tourism sector is depending on is what we call the ‘Talent War’, where they pinch each others talents. But that is not sustainable.
I have concerns if Dubai can keep the high level of standards that the market demands now, if we don’t approach the training standards right now. Pinching staff is hardly a solution.”
According to Gubler, the first student intake is scheduled for early 2009 and the institute will be a member of the ORION Hotel Schools global alliance.
“…being recognized as an ORION Hotel School will add value to the institute. We take great pride in watching our students grow and develop, going on to graduate and become the future leaders of the global hospitality and tourism industry,” said Gubler.
“The Al Hai Group already operates within the tourism, hotel management, aviation and aviation related sectors and the opportunity to move into education was a natural progression for us,” said HE Jamal Al Hai, chairman, Al Hai Group of Companies.
“Students for the undergraduate programmes will be recruited both locally in the Gulf and from the international pool of emerging talent. We are confident that both existing and new employees of the region’s hotels will benefit from the training offered,” he added.
While the University City will have a central school with all facilities along with a mock hotel for training, there are plans to operate up to 10 satellite training centres in various parts of Dubai, depending on hotel concentration.
“Our first step will be to approach hotels to provide training to existing staff, since most HR departments are not fully equipped to provide the right kind of training. They are good administration staff, but not necessarily good trainers. This is where we hope to have the fastest impact, making hotel training more efficient and better”, added Gubler
The Blue Mountains Hotel School has two campuses in Australia. The Blue Mountains Hotel School in Leura, New South Wales and the Australian International Hotel School in Canberra. The group also operates educational facilities in China with two campuses (Suzhou and Tianjin) and recently opened a hotel campus in Sweden.
Operation of the new hotel school will follow the Australian model from the Blue Mountains Hotel School, recognised globally for its highly sought after first class graduates. The undergraduate programmes will involve academic studies, applied practical on-campus training and an internship component. The new hotel school will offer a balanced integration of theoretical knowledge, practical skills and personal development.
The core programme will be a three year bachelor degree whereby students will gain exposure to all areas of hotel and resort management as well as tourism, leisure and event management.
A one year diploma and two year associate degree will also be on offer by the new hotel school. As a member of the ORION Hotel Schools global alliance the school will share a common platform of educational values, beliefs and teaching methodologies to underpin the respective programmes on offer.
“All of the programmes on offer at the new school will be internationally accredited and recognised. Initially we will focus on undergraduate programmes but intend to offer post graduate programmes within 12 months of commencement,” said Gubler.
Currently in the final design stages the new state of the art facility will incorporate the latest in educational aids particularly with regard to practical training aspects.
According to Al Hai, the Dubai campus (details of specific locations which are yet to be released), will offer a positive environment for students with a like minded passion for the tourism and hospitality sector.
Gubler felt the time was right for the Blue Mountains Hotel School to move into the Middle East. “In a city renowned for its amazing hotels and tourism ventures, Dubai offers a remarkable opportunity for students to study at an undergraduate or postgraduate level while witnessing phenomenal growth of tourism developments first hand. The industry is going through a human capital crisis and with the ongoing development of tourism infrastructure around the globe but particularly in China, India and the Middle East there is a clear and undeniable need to continue to educate and increase the pool of skilled tourism sector workers available to the industry.”
At the recent Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) held in Dubai, staffing levels were cited as one of the biggest challenges facing the global hotel industry. According to AHIC co-organiser, Jonathan Worsley, projections indicate that 1.5 million staff will be required in the Middle East alone by 2020.
“Dubai is centrally located in one of the high demand destinations and is ideal for our programmes which incorporate internship components which we see as the opportunity for many of the hotels, whether three, four or five star to capitalise on.”
“Developing the stars of the future right here in Dubai and providing a pool of potential talent, trained to the highest level for hotels to recruit from is a unique and highly desirable model to combat the staffing crises.”
For more information about the Dubai Hotel and Tourism Management Institute visit www.orionhotelschools.com