Swiss Education Group offers wide ranging specialisations in the field of hospitality education. New programmes are constantly added and existing ones upgraded as per the current and future needs of the industry in all its five colleges in Switzerland. By Sudipta Dev
Swiss Education Group (SEG) is an association of colleges and universities in Switzerland that specialise in hospitality education. The group currently has five different colleges – César Ritz Hospitality College Switzerland, Culinary Institute Switzerland, International School of Hotel Management IHTTI, Hotel Institute Montreux and Swiss Hotel Management School. “Currently we have 5000 international students studying with us each year. They study a range of programmes – diplomas, bachelors degree and post gradute/masters programmes. We also specialise within the colleges, so some colleges specialise in culinary or practical training, others are more management or entrepreneurship based. But all of them have an emphasis towards combining the academic studies together with practical paid internship,” says Guy Peters, director of Marketing, Asia Pacific, Swiss Education Group.
The colleges are differentiated according to their area of specialisation, e.g at IHTTI the emphasis is on hospitality and design. César Ritz is a traditional hospitality college with a lot of emphais on tourism research, so there are many Phd students who are looking at hospitality within the global tourism industry. Culinary Institute Switzerland obviously specialises in culinary arts.
The courses in Hotel Institute Montreux focus on running hospitality as a business and entreprenuership. “Many students do not want to work for others but themselves, be it starting a fine dining restaurant or a hotel. Also, many students who are from hotel families have the responsibility of taking up the business and growing it further into the international market,” says Peters. Hotel Management School is a classic hospitality school with emphasis on practicals, F&B, running big events. “We try to give each college a differentiation which allows students to study an area where their skills are and the fields they are interested in,” adds Peters. He feels that students should choose an institute that matches their needs. They should look at the programme very carefully to see if it offers the type of environment they want and also assess the job prospects after studying the programme. “We offer wide ranging programmes and are also developing more in conjunction with the hotel industry,” adds Peters. The courses are upgraded on an ongoing basis, in the last two years SEG has introduced new programmes and restructured the old ones to make the same more attractive to the industry.
All SEG colleges give a lot of importance to industry internships. “We really believe that students should have practical paid internships in order to use the skills that they obtain in the academy. This is what the hotel industry tells us. They do not want students to graduate just with theoretical knowledge. When students are recruited their practical experience can help them to directly go into frontline jobs, be it the front office, food & beverage, etc,” states Peters.
The colleges have very few Swiss students, most are from overseas. There are many students from European countries like Germany, France and Sweden. SEG considers the APAC market as very important as Peters points out this is where the growth in the hospitality industry is happening. “This is where our industry partners are building their new hotels so they want to tap into the talent that they can develop into managers in the future.” He believes that whether it is in India or other countries the days of the western expatriate GMs are numbered. Hotel companies want people who are international in their outlook but also someone who can understand the local culture and business practices.
Students from India have been opting for courses across the five colleges. “Some are interested in culinary, some in classical Swiss hotel education, others in business approach. The percentage of students from India is very low, but we hope that in the next five years more students will come because we can offer them an international perspective,” says Peters.
SEG encourages its students to do paid internships with hotels for four/five/six months. Under Swiss law internships have to be paid – the minimum is 2100 CHF per month. In some cases it goes up to 2500 CHF. In the first year SEG helps its students with interviews and makes a lot of effort to get them placed. “In second year we expect them to be more proactive to look for the right internship position as eventually when they have to get employment they have to use their own skills,” says Peters.
Twice a year SEG holds the international recruitment forum. “We work with many different partners all over the world. These partner hotels come to meet students for internship and full time employment,” states Peters, adding that from India the Taj Group and the Oberoi are a part of the network. SEG is working in India with Aliff Overseas who specialise in hospitality education.
SEG has an advisory board from the industry who meet at least four times a year. Although the senior management is Swiss, SEG employs an international faculty.