[By VICTOR NZE]
A total number of 500 trainees and students in nine campuses took the Matriculation Oath for the 2020/2021 academic session of the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR).
The matriculation ceremony held recently in Abuja.
Director General of NIHOTOUR, Alhaji Nura Kangiwa, who noted that the institute remains one of the most rated projects of the United Nations/International Labour Organisation (UNDP/ILO) and the Nigeria Government for professional travel, hospitality and tourism training, as well as, research in the country, congratulated the new intakes, as he further enjoined them to study professional occupational skills development for capacity and career building.
Kangiwa who was represented at the occasion by the Director, Research and Development/General Studies of the Institute, Dr. Taiwo Famogbiyele, also reiterated the resolve of NIHOTOUR to produce skilled, motivated and well-equipped graduates that will be instrumental and involved in bringing about the desired change of filling the skill-gap in the industry and ensure better quality service delivery in line with global best practices.
“More importantly, our tuition is the least among tertiary institutions in Nigeria. The management subsidises fees of students in this Institute to attract the less-privileged towards empowering the youth and also providing avenues for professional organizations to access capacity building for their agencies.
“We on our part are doing all we can within the resources available to maintain the needed conducive instructional and learning environment for your smooth training and studies,” said Kangiwa.
The Director General admonished the fresh trainees and students to deploy their youthful energy positively to enhance the growth and development of the Institute and not to bring shame and bad publicity to damage the good image the Institute is known for.
He further advised them to adhere strictly to the rules and the regulations of the school, participate actively in all the activities, adding that they should be committed to learning and studies with an expectation of finishing with good results.
On his part, Guest lecturer at the occasion and National President of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) Mr. Nkereuwem Onung, commended Kangiwa for ‘his passionate leadership and unwavering quest to sustain the position of NIHOTOUR as a leading global brand to be reckoned with.’
Onung advocated reinforcement and job assurances in the labour market as well as within the operations of the industry by government and employers to mitigate the negative impacts and effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the industry which had resulted in job losses and dwindling revenues for businesses of stakeholders and investors.
Speaking on the theme; ‘Building Capacity to Meet the Travel, Hospitality and Tourism Industry Skills Gap for Quality Service Delivery in Nigeria,’ Onung noted that a few years back, ‘students of tourism and hospitality were laughed at for not choosing more serious career paths,’ as, according to him, ‘jobs in the sector were not taken seriously, and building a career in the industry was not regarded an option at all.’
“A few years down the line, we are here today celebrating with the new students who are interested in pursuing a career in the travel, hospitality and tourism.
“I am deliberate in using the words Travel, Hospitality and Tourism here because it is time we draft the contributions of Aviation and Transport sector into the calculation of Tourism contributions to GDP in Nigeria.”
The FTAN President posited that the world has entered a phase that is popularly referred to as the fourth industrial revolution.
“A period characterized by a technological revolution that is massively reshaping and transforming the way industries, communities and societies operate and engage or relate with each other.
“Travel, hospitality and tourism industry is right in the middle of this as it is largely labour intensive.”
Onung further explained that the industry’s potential to realize growth and make significant contributions to the economic development of communities around the globe ‘mainly hinges on one condition; its ability to rapidly fill hundreds of thousands of new positions with qualified people.’
“The industry is particularly dependent on its ability to hire young men and women ages 17–25, who make up the largest share of employees in the industry.
“The World Travel & Tourism Council has recently warned that COVID-19 pandemic could lead to a cut 50 million jobs worldwide in the travel and tourism industry.
“Going forward, the nature of travel, hospitality and tourism businesses will change to functioning with only qualified manpower and more efficient operations, where a balance between smart and skilled labour is sought after.”
He, therefore, urged the new intakes to acquire ‘employability skills’ as a way to navigate through the present industry adversity and realize their potential.
“You critically need life and employability skills as a way to prepare you to be motivated and confident decision-makers who can overcome adversity and realize your potential.
“At this point, we encourage you all to develop a career vision to chart a career path in this sector. This entails accepting responsibility for how far you want to go. The vision must be clear; you must acquire the competence required while expecting definite constraints which creativity and concentration will deliver. You will need courage and continuous action to arrive at teamwork.
“The importance of life skills for the travel, hospitality and tourism industry cannot be overstated. It is not unusual for entry-level staff in a hotel to interact daily with hundreds of people with different cultural backgrounds, languages, service expectations, and needs. Travel, Hospitality and Tourism industry workers must be able to rapidly adapt to accommodate a degree of diversity unheard of in other lines of work.
“As a Federation (FTAN), we shall be introducing our vision of “FTAN 500K CARES” by 2025. CARES means Career Assisted Resources for Employability Scheme in partnership with M8 Global Know Network. It is expected that by 2025, about 500,000 young workforces in Travel, Hospitality and Tourism sector will be trained using Technology and modern vocational education training methods,” Onung said.
He, however, appealed to all practitioners in the industry to join hands with NIHOTOUR ‘as a matter of urgency and necessity to encourage up skilling, re-skilling and continuous education as a means to building capacity to meet travel, hospitality and tourism industry skills gap for quality service delivery in Nigeria.’