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World class hospitality school in Rwanda addressing the challenges of limited hands-on skills

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In 2009, the Workforce Development Authority (WDA) in Rwanda on behalf of the government embarked on an ambitious goal, to train a good number of the then workers in the hospitality industry.

This was triggered by an alarmingly poor customer service menace in the country.

Looking back to when the program begun, management at WDA scores that the hospitality industry was at the time filled up with a confused workforce driven only by their love for work but lacking employable skills to man the industry as required. Over the period in review, WDA in collaboration with the players in the industry has trained over 2000 workers, a number that has greatly impacted services in the tourism sector in countrywide.

Some of the realizable effects include lifting Rwanda from last position in the East African Community in service delivery to third position. “It is a humble but strong contribution what we have made to developing skills in the hospitality industry.

We still carry the same dream today like we did three years ago; equipping the sector with the talent. This has among others helped set standards which are bound to transform hospitality business”, Sam Barigye, the Coordinator of Hospitality and Tourism Training at WDA scored.

However the previous growth that the hospitality industry has enjoyed is evidently minimal if compared to the future the industry is geared towards. “There are many international players in the international hospitality industry that eye Rwanda as a destination for their investments on the wake of each day. This simply is an alert for all of us to work hard and equip our workforce such that they can benefit from that growth”, Mr. Barigye continued.

Listed among the sector captains globally that will find their way into Rwanda in the near future is Malliot Hotels, Radisson Hotels among many others. Radisson is expected to man the Kigali Convention Centre in Kimihurura upon completing construction work sometime in 2014. “All these hotels will demand a supply of good skilled employees and this is a great opportunity of Rwandans and hospitality in particular”, Barigye scored.

Geared towards covering the gap, WDA recently embarked on an ambitious goal to create a world class hospitality training school in Kigali that would play the role. The eyed Kigali International School of Hospitality and Hotel Management (KISHHM) might be nearing reality now that the Rwandan cabinet has approved and will soon gazette it as an independent public institution, charged with building skills in the hospitality industry and tourism sector at large. In anticipation for the near creation of the unit, the hospitality and tourism training cluster at WDA has already opened doors in its Remera campus for interested candidates to pursue various programs.

Over 80 students have enrolled for the initial intake of the school for which classes begun in early November 2013. Currently the programs offered at the school include a diploma in food and beverage services, culinary services, front office services, housekeeping, travel operations and tour guiding. All the available diploma courses are on a two years basis.

Also, advanced diploma programs are available in Travel and Tour management, Food and Beverage Management, and Rooms division Management.

All these are geared towards delivering to the escalating demand for high management employees in the hospitality industry. Upon cabinet approval, construction for the international school in Kicukiro is expected to commence early next year and will carry on for two years.

The initial stage will result into study premises for the school. “First we will construct a three story facility to accommodate all the classes”, Barigye noted  adding that this will later be followed by construction of a four star, sixty-roomed hotel that will serve as an application centre for the students.

By the time of concluding construction, KISHHM targets to have accumulated at least 300 fulltime students, who will then shift to the new facility.

At Remera where the training programs currently are, the school plans to construct a public restaurant which will serve as an income generating project to compliment public resources that will be used at the school.  In as much as there are private hospitality universities, there has been a long standing challenge for these to produce enough labor for the market according to Barigye.

“Hospitality trainings are very expensive owing to the need to equip students with hands-on skills more than just the theories. This is very hard considering the high cost equipment required. This is why government intervention to construct a world class school was needed”.

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