ITS to widen student overseas work experience opportunities
The Institute of Tourism Studies is close to concluding negotiations with a Spanish hotel franchise to offer its students placements in its 400 properties across the continent.
Diploma and higher national diploma students at the hospitality school are currently assigned internships at hotels in the UK and major European cities like Brussels.
But if executive director Adrian Mamo and his team succeed, students could soon be offered opportunities in the US, the Middle East, or on cruise liners.
And next month, representatives of a hospitality academy in the Seychelles will travel to Malta to sign a memorandum of understanding to pave the way for at least two student placements.
International placements are at the core of several ITS programmes and expose students to different scenarios, guests, and increase their cultural awareness. Some students even clinch important job opportunities during their traineeship and are promised employment on completion of their studies.
Mr Mamo explains there are more plans on the St Julian’s school’s agenda as it works to raise standards and expectations in its bid to provide the tourism sector with a well-rounded crop of graduates every year.
Last October, ITS launched a hospitality events management programme to cater for the destination management and the meetings, incentives, conference and events niche, vital to the industry in the winter. Modules include logistics, financial resources management, and marketing with a strong element of food and beverage service.
The school, Mr Mamo pointed out, is working hard to respond to the industry’s ever-increasing demands by shaping its programmes to better meet its requirements.
Student recruitment involves a panel which includes a representative from the hospitality business, while an industry liaison officer facilitates communication with the school’s leadership team.
Internally, standards continue to rise as management and lecturing staff work to encourage students to achieve more, partly by offering them major opportunities, and also by instilling more discipline.
A head of administration is to be appointed shortly, following the recent recruitment of a student placement and exchanges coordinator. Students are being more widely engaged in school matters. The process to change the school uniform for the first time since 1988 will kick off in the next few weeks and will take students’ feedback on board.
Meanwhile, a committee is to be named to judge three shortlisted designs submitted by final-year hospitality management students for the project to refurbish the cafeteria. The cafeteria, one of three dining options open to patrons on the school premises, will be refitted next summer.
“We are encouraging higher levels of student participation all round,” Mr Mamo added.
“We are also teaching entrepreneurship more widely in our curriculum. There are several interdisciplinary modules which have been introduced so that students learn skills like customer care and customer relations management, so key to a business. We are heightening the importance of soft skills, spoken and written English, and have introduced key competencies like IT, maths, financial resources management, and cultural awareness to the curriculum.”
ITS, which is to launch its popular part-time prospectus in February, currently has 700 full-time students, double that of just a few years ago. Next year, it anticipates more than 900 which will translate into a logistical challenge. Last May, the Prime Minister announced a new campus was planned for ITS and the school’s management team is currently in talks with the authorities.
Mr Mamo is confident the school can score even higher achievement and continue to serve the industry and its aspiring student body even better. More open-mindedness from parents and students with a greater willingness to learn more competencies would go a long way, Mr Mamo pointed out.
“Vocational qualifications still suffer a lack of parity of esteem with academic qualifications,” Mr Mamo said.
“Vocational education must include academic studies – even research at higher levels. We must continue to work to change the perception of vocational education.”