RMIT Vietnam has launched a new Tourism and Hospitality Management program, while the country welcomed a record number of foreign arrivals in 2016.
According to Narumon Sriratanaviriyakul, a lecturer in Tourism and Hospitality Management, the University began considering the program a few years ago. “We looked at the figures and there are a lot of tourists coming to Vietnam; however more than 50 percent of people don’t want to come back,” she says.
“So we looked at what the problem is there, and I think it’s mostly about the quality of service,” Sriratanaviriyakul explains. “It’s not just that. It’s also not understanding the concept of marketing and of keeping customers.”
The problem, according to Sriratanaviriyakul, is a lack of appropriate training.
“In our research we found that only 3.8 percent of people working in tourism in Vietnam have a higher education degree,” she says. “That means we do have some skilled workers but they need more training.”
Sriratanaviriyakul hopes to address this training gap in several ways, including by partnering with restaurants and hotels so that students can receive real-world experience.
“If students get to work in the industry when they’re in school it benefits both ways,” she explains. “Hotels can look at who can be potential employees in the future, while at the same time students understand how to tie theory into real practices.”
Tran Thi Trieu Minh, Director of Human Resources at the Park Hyatt Saigon, argues that internship programs are vital for students interested in hospitality.
“When you study at university it’s mostly theoretical but you don’t have practical experience,” she says in an email.
“Students need to do an internship to see if they fit, and universities need to have a close relationship with hotel management teams so that they can understand what students need.”
Minh also stressed the importance of acquiring soft skills such as language fluency and the ability to adapt to different working environments, communication skills, and international standards.
Sriratanaviriyakul shares that RMIT Vietnam students will be equipped with just such skills and capabilities.
Along with their academic courses, students will benefit from the Personal Edge+ program, which helps students develop soft skills to effectively communicate, collaborate, and negotiate in a fast-paced world.
“They will have the skills to work in any country across a range of jobs, from tour operator to a tourism authority member to a manager at a hotel resort,” she says. “We don’t want to focus on just one industry.”
Story: Michael Tatarski