A world renowned Dubai corporate group is keen to set up a hotel school in Sri Lanka to turn out trained personnel for its own hotels in the Gulf and elsewhere. Senior officials of the Jumeirah Group that owns the world’s only 7-star hotel, Burj al Arab, acknowledged as the best hotel in the world, are expected to visit Colombo shortly to explore the possibility of establishing a hotel school. This follows discussions that Deputy Tourism Minister Faizer Musthapha had with the chief executive officer of the Jumeirah group in Dubai last month.
Mr Musthapha who was in London last week on his way back from visits to the Gulf and Kuwait told The Sunday Times of the talks he had to promote tourism from the Gulf region and to search for employment opportunities for Sri Lankans in the tourism sector there.
The deputy minister said that the Jumeirah group which owns several hotels besides the Burj al Arab, the world’s tallest all-suite hotel, estimates that it alone would need 62,000 trained persons for its hotel sector in the next five years.Because of Sri Lanka’s reputation for providing skilled training for different sectors of the hotel industry from chefs to front office managers, the Jumeirah group is keen to set up a school in Sri Lanka.
Mr. Musthapha said that he initiated a scheme last year that gives theoretical and practical training to rural youth in a wide range of hotel jobs and already 500 of these youth had found employment in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE.
“Had they gone to the Gulf without that training they would have found employment only as unskilled workers. Now with the initial training they can find employment as skilled job seekers,” Mr. Musthapha said.
He said that at the start of this youth empowerment scheme 1000 youth had been selected from the Kandy district. They were given two months training in theory and thereafter one month actually working in hotels for on-the-job experience.
“We charge them Rs. 5,000 for this and at the end of three months they come out with valuable experience that makes it easier for them to find jobs here or abroad,” he said.
The scheme was extended to Colombo where 1000 youth drawn from the hinterland were trained. “We are hoping to extend this to the Eastern province too,” Mr. Musthapha said underlining his keen interest in attracting rural youth to his pet training scheme so as to provide them with gainful employment in Sri Lanka’s own hotel industry or abroad.
by Neville de Silva, London