When the conservative Indians promoted the concept of eating outside their homes by patronising the exceptional culinary skills of the Udupi cooks, little did they realise that they were paving the way for a mighty food and hospitality industry in the coming decades.
Though the industry began as an amateur, it slowly developed into a state-of-the-art restaurant over a period of time, giving it a professional touch.
Soon, high profile hospitality industry like the star-rated hotels, swanky resorts, restaurants and VIP guest houses felt the need for trained professionals who could carry out their duties with a flair of international sensibilities.
The Government of India realised these needs and encouraged various universities to include a course in Hotel Management in the 1980s.
Now, most colleges offer good infrastructure and they complement classroom academics with practical lessons to enrich the knowledge of the students. However, the results have not been exactly spectacular, thus far.
While some colleges are affiliated to the Indian universities, many have tied up with foreign universities for short term diploma courses and certificate courses, which boost the profile of the student in the international scene.
Initially a 4-year undergraduate course called BHM (Bachelor of Hotel Management) was introduced with relevant subjects touching on areas like language, accounts, housekeeping and related skills necessary for the job. The teaching faculty at hotel management colleges said that though the course content matched international standards, unfortunately, the takers of the courses were the students who were much below the average mark. A survey reveals that the situation has not altered much, even to this day.
The reasons are obvious – students with low marks or candidates who may have discontinued education are the usual takers. Naturally, they do not do well in academics because of lack of basic knowledge coupled with a sense of low self-esteem.
They are also perhaps acutely aware of the fact that the society at large is not really well-known for honouring jobs as hoteliers, waiters or housekeepers even in star-rated hotels. This is also one of the main reasons why there was a glaring absence of girl students in these classes in the initial years. The scene has changed a little over the years. Now there is a steady trickle of young women who are ready to give it a shot.
Despite the low popularity level, it is a fact that, the course has landed several diligent students in enviable positions in many star-rated hotels.
These success stories have also encouraged the partially-educated staff working in private and ordinary eateries to take up the course to upgrade themselves as professionally qualified personnel who can move on to greener pastures.
Then there are enterprising hoteliers who introduce grooming classes and train their staff in communication and soft skills to enhance the quality of the services in the hotel. Such trained workers are indirectly motivated to clear their intermediate examinations privately and take up a hotel management course.
The reason for such careful cushioning lies in the realms of detrimental attrition which leaves the industry almost always in a state of uncertainty.
The day is not far when the growing demand of the industry will attract more and more and even meritorious students to consider hotel management courses as a career option.
Hotel management colleges can consider this situation to be a cue and gear up to cater to the needs of the industry and give it the much needed facelift. Globalisation and enhanced spending capacity of Indians has paved the way for a boom in the hospitality industry in a big way. Campus recruitments are becoming the order of the day.
Big names in the industry across the globe are ready to absorb and pay fancy salaries and positions construing to the talents and qualifications of the candidates. In fact the market has expanded over the past couple of years. Developing marine businesses like cruise liners and ships are recruiting personnel by the dozens. Event management teams and trip organisers are always looking for trained staff.
Certainly, the situation cannot get any better. Earnest students of hotel management can be rest assured that they can land themselves on the velvet if they work diligently towards their goal.