Short term measures introduced to meet demand | Sunday Observer

Short term measures introduced to meet demand

Urgent action has been proposed to address the persisting skills gap in the tourism sector with the introduction of short term measures to meet demand.

The private sector Tourism Skills Committee (TSC) was set up with the launch of the Tourism Workforce Competitiveness Roadmap, an initiative directed towards the call to action to bridge the gap in the sector by producing talented youth to drive the industry forward.

“We have already prioritized a list of entry level courses the TSC intends to update with the Technical and Vocational Education Centre and SLITHM as well as new courses Sri Lanka needs to introduce to keep pace with global trends,” TSC Chairman Malik Fernando said at the launch of the Roadmap held in Colombo recently. The Roadmap demonstrates the kind of vision, leadership and cooperation from the private sector that is needed to ensure Sri Lanka gets the most from its incredibly talented young women and men, he said.

One theme in TSC’s Roadmap is to encourage more women to enter the industry. A joint national campaign to change attitudes towards vocational education, particularly among women had been carried out recently.

“I love tourism, it has been an amazing career for me,” TSC Vice Chair and Managing Director Jetwing Travels Shiromal Cooray said.

“Unfortunately many young women and their parents do not know how interesting and fulfilling it can be. We need to show them and I can be taken as a role model. The growth of this industry will be hampered if half of our workforce sits on the sidelines,” she said.

The dignity of the profession should be stressed and positive attitudes need to be developed among women to make the industry more appealing. Women should be respected and recognized as capable human beings who can be of service to the country, she said.

Sri Lanka’s tourism industry has not been able to attract a sufficient number of female employees as there is a negative perception among the public with regard to the industry. Therefore, it is important to change the mindset of society to attract more women as they are an asset to the industry, Tourism Consultant, YouLead Srilal Miththapala said.

“There is a growing demand for staff in the tourism sector. The current vacancies in the sector exceed one hundred thousand. However, the country produces only 10,000 professionals annually and the vast gap in workforce requirement needs to be addressed immediately. The short courses to be introduced by the TSC will support the industry fill the existing vacancies and meet the skills demand, he said.

It is important to have a good balance between the supply and demand of skills to meet the needs of guests all the time. For this, a conscious effort to train young blood is essential and to make them prepared to move in to the industry, he said.

One of the drawbacks the local tourism industry faces is the lack of enthusiasm by youth in the North and the East regions to join the industry. Most of their parents opt for traditional jobs and they do not encourage their children to join this field, specially the girls. The industry should look in to the possibility of attracting more women and youth from this region as tourism has become a fast growing economic sector in the country, he said.

The launched Roadmap has eight strategies to develop the sector while special emphasis is given to the skills development component. Among the strategies are to enhance the quality of hospitality and tourism training, outreach to youth, their parents and community, make informed decisions and to lead by example in providing training for new entrants to the industry.