Rwandan tourism and hospitality sector ambitions have often been said to be dependent on quality of services provided by outlets. Often, the quality of service has been said to be lacking in both traditional aspects such as hotel service as well as modern aspects such as event management.
The challenge has often been blamed on the quality of graduates joining the workforce as well as limited review of the methodology of training and capacity building.
Last week, Rwanda Polytechnic received 20 new curricula for the tourism and hospitality sector which were developed from inputs of Rwanda Polytechnic, Rwanda Chamber of Tourism, the private sector stakeholders. The efforts were coordinated by GIZ under the Hanga Ahazaza initiative of the Mastercard Foundation.
The new curricula include 10 new ones as well as 10 which were revised.
Skills and capacities in the tourism and hospitality sector have often faced a challenge as there has not been relevant training to keep up with industry development. For instance, event management has been in demand in recent years, but not as many courses on the aspect have been developed locally in previous years.
The New Times understands that in the process, Kenya’s Utalii College, a leading educational institute in the tourism and hospitality sector was involved to offer their expertise and capacities. The curricula was also subject to pre-validation of over 150 industry and education experts.
Dianne Dusaidi a Program Manager at Mastercard Foundation said that a skilled workforce has proven to be a prerequisite of a performing tourism and hospitality industry.
She however noted that the skills have to be market driven and agreeable among the various stakeholders in the industry to shape the growth and performance of the industry.
The new curricula she said is a positive step towards skilling the workforce.
Other experts said that review of the curricula and introduction of new learning points and avenues is the first step towards bridging a labour market gap that has been growing over the years.
Innocent Rutayisire a Chef and a manager at Bourbon said that the development could improve the relevance of the sector’s workforce in line with the skills in demand and market trends. This, he said will also improve the competitiveness of the Rwandan sector.
However, others say that the development of new curricula is not the ultimate ‘problem solution’ and will be dependent on the ability of facilitators and Rwanda Polytechnic to utilize them.
On this, James Gashumba, the Vice-Chancellor of Rwanda Polytechnic said that they have the capacity to make the most of new curricular to turn around the sector. He noted that this comes at a time when they institution is adjusting its learning methodology to incorporate practical learning which will improve the graduates outcomes.
The curricula introduced also features suitable for online and virtual learning such as videos in an attempt to improve learning outcomes.
The government has a target of revenues of about $800 million by 2024 from the tourism and hospitality sector. This could also see the sector play a significant role in generating a portion of the 200,000 off farm jobs annually as per government’s targets.