Moulding professionals for the industry since the last 25 years, L V Kumar, principal, The Institute of Hotel Management & Catering Technology (IHMCT), Kovalam talks about the institution’s approach towards skill upgradation. By Kahini Chakraborty
With a motto of ‘Learn and Serve’ and ‘Quality Service’ as code of profession, The Institute of Hotel Management & Catering Technology (IHMCT), Kovalam, has completed 25 years of its journey in providing excellence in hospitality education. The institution set up in 1990 is run under the aegis of the ministry of tourism, Government of India, and offers a well amalgamated mix of theory, practicals and hands-on-experience at the institution and industry level. The programmes give priority to developing positive attitude, personality and communication skills of students. Located at Kovalam Beach, the institution is in close proximity to many resort hotels. L V Kumar, principal, IHMCT, Kovalam, who has been in the government service of teaching for the last 35 years, strongly believes, “You do not only need to teach a subject to a student, but you also need to get the student motivated and interested enough in a particular subject. Commitment and total involvement is what is expected out of students looking at joining hospitality management courses.” Kumar has a teaching experience in various capacities at Institutes of Hotel Management and Catering Technology, Bhopal, Gwalior and Thiruchirappalli. He served for 13 years as principal of SIHMCT, Thiruchirappalli and is now principal at IHMCT, Kovalam for the last five years.
Every year the institution takes in a batch of 193 students in total. The Bachelor of Science (BSc) programme in Hospitality and Hotel Administration is offered by the National Council of Hotel Management and Catering Technology and the Indira Gandhi National Open University. The three year (six semester) programme equips trainees with all the required skills, knowledge and attitude to efficiently undertake managerial and supervisory responsibilities in the hospitality sector. Students with minimum qualification of plus two are admitted to the course through an All India Joint Examination conducted by the National Council during the month of April/May. On the growing demand of students opting for hospitality management courses in the South India market, he informs, “In Trivandrum and Ernakulam itself there are approximately 1000 students who participate every year in the entrance exam. And over the years this demand has been increasing.” Apart from the three-year BSc degree course, the institution also offers a one year diploma degree in food and beverage, a one and a half year diploma degree course in food production, and a one and a half year diploma degree course in F&B services. Hunar Se Rozgar courses are also offered. “We also take consultancy for government departments, setting up of kitchens, canteen facilities. We have 13 regular faculties and 12 teaching associates. We have more than 12 classrooms and more than 14 laboratories. After launching our student exchange programmes, we are now contemplating on faculty exchange programmes as well,” says Kumar. The institution also offers extra curricular activities like Cat A Fest and annual sports day, while the co-curricular activities include: Fandanago and theme dinners.
The institution holds a 90-100 per cent placement record, boasts Kumar, adding that, apart from pan India, the institution also has placement opportunities in Maldives and Dubai. “Our USP lies in our 13 committed faculty members who have 20-25 years of experience. We have already inaugurated the new building facilities for students. We are upgrading our equipment to the tune of Rs three crore,” he adds.
In Kovalam itself there are about 2500 rooms available across various hotel segments and there are work opportunities for 10,000 employees. Hence students are encouraged to consider working over the weekends at any of the hotels and learn about the industry requirements and apply the theoretical knowledge to the daily practical work life while earning a stipend amount, which acts as a motivation for them. “While it is not a norm for students to take up jobs in the hotel industry over the weekend, we encourage them about the idea and leave it on them to decide,” he states.
Balancing between imparting theoretical knowledge with practical experiences, Kumar feels that it helps students realise which section of the hospitality industry is best suited for them. “The front office job profile requires excellent communication skills which is not technical in nature, whereas food production requires technical knowledge. Hence many students opt for food production job profile over front office, F&B and housekeeping.”
When asked about the issues of attrition and learning gap among new recruits that the hospitality industry witnesses, Kumar strongly opines, “Leading hotel groups and associations believe in starting their own schools to address staff shortage. Though the industry has grown, it is still immature in its HR policies. Other industries are leveraging on talents who have been trained in hotel management careers. Since the hospitality industry is all about people management, there needs to be a re-look at the HR policies and an investment in human asset. Value system in the hotel industry is the need of the hour. I feel that the HR policies and value system needs to be integrated and new HR policies should be developed. The hospitality industry should also encourage variable pay packages according to performance of employees, along with continuous training programmes.”