The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture is restructuring the Hotel, Catering and Tourism Training Institute (HOTCATT) into a viable Ghana Hotel and Tourism Training Institute (GHATTI), which would bring significant socio-economic benefits.
Mrs Catherine Ablema Afeku, the sector minister, said while there was no internationally recognised hands-on tourism and hotel training institute, the courses offered by the existing tertiary institutions did not meet demand-driven needs of the industry players.
She said although some existing training institutes offered degree and certificates in tourism, hospitality and catering courses; they faced challenges in the areas of quality instructors, standard facilities, standard curriculum as well as accreditation.
Mrs Afeku said this at a forum on Ghana’s Hospitality and Tourism Industry, organised by the Ghana Technical Universities and Polytechnics in collaboration with University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES).
Technical Universities in Ghana are partnering with UMES to form a consortium to conduct curriculum assessment and infusion of international certification standards in the hospitality and tourism sector.
The project would provide Ghanaian Technical Universities’ faculty members with international exposure and certification, provide leadership and guidance and also to promote the exchange of students, faculty and staff between Ghanaian universities and UMES on research and training.
Mrs Afeku said many tourists complained of poor service quality, which inferred that the quality of workforce in the industry was below par and required immediate capacity building interventions at all levels.
“Tourism is a highly specialized industry, capacity building efforts need to be intensified; critical professional, managerial and technical skills need to be recruited”, the Minister added.
Mrs Barbara Asher Ayisi, Deputy Minister of Education, in-charge of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) said an effective TVET system had the potential for skill development; thus improving the competitiveness of the workforce.
She said in Ghana tourism has witnessed a significant growth and being the fourth highest foreign exchange earner for the country in 2016; as tourism employed about 438,000 people, directly and indirectly, that same year.
Mrs Ayisi said there is the need to aim at providing the necessary skills and training opportunities in hospitality and allied services to high international standards and in an effective and systematic manner, to support our tourism drive.
Professor Emmanuel Acquah, Director of International programmes at UMES, said among the objectives of the project was to develop the capacity of instructors in hospitality and tourism institutions by on-the-job training and off-site training to improve their teaching skills.
He said there was recognition that the development of the human capital in the public and private sectors of tourism, as well as the technical universities, is an important element for the long-term sustainable development of tourism.
Prof Acquah said the capacity of public officials needed to be enhanced to vigorously formulate and implement policies, projects and programmes related to product development, marketing quality assurance and research skills.
Prof Emmanuel Sakyi, Chairman of Vice-Chancellors and Rectors of Technical Universities and Polytechnics in Ghana, said one of the major challenges in the country was youth employment and one way of addressing the problem was to provide employable skills.
He noted, however, that these employable skills were TVET related, and were all abound in the tourism and hospitality sector.
He said as part of their contribution they were supporting government’s agenda of addressing the youth unemployment; as such Technical Universities have decided to carve a need for themselves by focusing on skills training for the youth, so they could have access to the sector.