Advance Diploma in Hospitality Management: |08 September 2023
STA principal urges stronger support from hotels for ADHM graduates
Many students who have completed their Bachelor’s degree in hotel management at the Shannon College of Hotel Management in Ireland are automatically bonded to work in the country for five years.
The Advance Diploma in Hospitality Management (ADHM) course was initially intended to address the issue of the shortage of Seychellois managers in the local hotel Industry. However, many graduates have found themselves in a predicament, opting to venture outside the tourism sector due to lack of opportunities in their studied fields, undermining the mission and goal of the ADHM course.
In an interview with Seychelles NATION, Seychelles Tourism Academy (STA) principal Terrence Max recognised the difficulties of the graduates upon their return from their studies overseas. He stated he was not satisfied with the lack of opportunities presented to the college graduates.
“All those who are conscious of the ADHM course would gladly like to see more Shannon College graduates working in a hotel but it is not the case,” mentioned Mr Max.
He noted that it saddens him to see those they have trained and developed, currently working in other fields, adding that this remains one of their biggest challenges which they are trying to overcome.
“We are working in conjunction with different hotels through our governing board to see how we can make sure when these graduates return from Shannon College they can attain a position which they merit and based on their experience and qualifications,” said the principal.
Mr Max said less than 50 percent of students who have graduated from Shannon College over the years are currently working in the hotel industry.
The principal was asked if these issues prohibit the ADHM course from achieving its goal, to which he stated they definitely act as a setback in what the course was trying to achieve. He added that the STA’s mandate is to enroll, train and develop students for the tourism sector, which they have done over the years.
“As I always mention, for me it does not stop there, I have the desire to go beyond to see these students enter the industry, acquire a position and stay,” said the principal.
Mr Max stated that 95 percent of the students who enroll on the ADHM course graduate from the programme but to really measure the success of the course will be the retention of the graduates in the hotel industry in their correct fields.
The bonded agreement between students and the government states that upon the completion of one’s study they should work in the country for five years whether in the tourism industry or elsewhere.
Mr Max said it would be a great advantage if there was a mechanism in place to make sure when the graduates return from their studies they can directly be placed in the hotel industry.
“I remember back when I was doing the ADHM course, which I helped to develop, the students were bonded with different hotels before going to Shannon College and when they returned they worked for these hotels,” he said.
The principal mentioned that due to many students aiming for different fields such as marketing, which are not in demand in the hotel industry, the government was flexible in broadening the bond to allow the students more freedom, but ideally they want to see all of them in the tourism industry as it is what they were trained for.
In March this year, the 10thcohort of the ADHM with 21 students graduated from Shannon College and nine are currently continuing their internship in Seychelles whereas the other 11 are still in Ireland.
“Normally when a cohort graduate from Shannon they are offered another 18 months to two years for a final internship and they could remain in Ireland to do so, they could go to Dubai also or return back to the country to complete it,” mentioned the principal.
He also said the internship is compulsory but the students can choose a location provided the destination provides visa. “Another challenge in Seychelles is many students would have wanted go to elsewhere in Europe apart from the mentioned destination to do their internships but it comes down to the issue of visa,” said Mr Max.
According to STA’s principal, there has been a peak of interest and demand not just from newly graduates from professional centres but also from past STA students who have been working in the industry for many years. “It is encouraging to see the demands increase especially those who have experience in the hotel industry who want to deepen their knowledge in hospitality and want to go further in the industry,” said the principal.
The ADHM course is internationally recognised and is accredited and validated by the National University of Ireland. In his opinion as an experienced hotelier with extensive knowledge of the course, Mr Max said the programme is a bit similar with other hospitality programmes around the world meaning these students upon their return should merit a role at a certain level.
The National University of Ireland (NUI) is a federal university comprising the largest element of the Irish university system. As a unique and historical focal point in higher education, NUI serves the interests of the member institutions, by providing services to them and to their graduates. Shannon College of Hotel Management is a member institution of NUI.
“They do one year internship in Seychelles, two years in Ireland and other places abroad. They should at least earn a good position but seemingly not every hotel is honouring the course,” said the principal.
He added that some students are frustrated in realising they are getting offered vacancies at a lower level with less attractive packages that do not reflect their qualifications and experience and thus they decide to do other things.
Mr Max said the STA was working with different hotels to find better ways to include the graduates in appropriate positions according to their qualifications and experience upon their return to the country. “It is worth noting that upon the completion of their studies, the young Seychellois graduates would not be in a senior managerial role but at a level where they can see there is progression in their career,” mentioned Mr Max.
He added that at the age of 17 and 18, expatriates from Europe have accumulated a lot of exposure in different hotels across their countries and continent because they have access to move around.
“For Seychelles we are a bit restricted due to our location, making it far to get more exposure and it is not possible to send students to different places for longer period, so instinctively analysing the expats’ CV will be more detailed with experience even though they might have the same qualifications. That is where we have another weakness; lack of international exposure,” said the principal.
Mr Max believes that if the ADHM students receive more exposure they might be more recognised and he believes hotels should also lend a helping hand. “The big hotels that have international chains should be able to provide opportunities to those students, so that when they graduate, they can go to another resort chain around the world. This would be benefiting to all parties, we need to address the clog in opportunities for when they return they will have more baggage to offer,” mentioned Mr Max.
According to the principal there are many factors which contribute for these issues and lack opportunities for the graduates. “As I have worked in hotels and I am aware that hotel themselves have their own agenda on staffing, their own plans and budget and probably the package which suits the graduate is not financially available.”
He also said they need to strengthen their efforts in making these establishments understand that these students are exiting with a qualification at a high level and that for them to prove themselves they have to be provided with opportunities.
The principal of STA said for retention of graduates in the hotel industry to be successful everyone must get involved, namely tourism, employment and the hotels. In his view a proper career should be drawn whereby the graduates are placed on a localisation programme and be evaluated after a period of time.
He added that past managers should provide mentorship to graduates to advise and guide them in the industry upon their return.
The principal of STA said they have good relationships with hotels in the country and invites them to the academy which is also a recruitment ground to market their establishments to the students and also urges them to deepen their collaboration for the ADHM graduates.
As for the graduates he advises them to seek mentorship to get a grasp of the task ahead of them and to acquire skills to navigate during difficulties, which might surface in their careers.
Last week, the 15th cohort for the ADHM course embarked on its three-year journey at the STA with 14 students enrolled. The first year, the ADHM course focuses on the operations of a hotel.
Following the completion of the first year, which is not automatic the students goes on an internship for one year in a hotel establishment and the third year the course focuses more on the management aspect of the hospitality industry.
After successfully completing the course, there is an option for a degree whereby students are enrolled at the Shannon College in Ireland for a fourth year with the goal of achieving higher education and training for the hospitality industry.