Fri | Nov 16, 2018

More learner-centred education needed in hospitality training

Published:Wednesday | November 29, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Caroline Couret, founder and director of the Creative Tourism Network, makes a presentation during a session on Science, Technology and Innovation on day one of the Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth. To her right is Maria Myers Hamilton, change management consultant and information technology professional. Seated at left is Dr Pauline Milwood, assistant professor, Penn State University in the United States.

Professionals in the hospitality sector are batting for more "learner-centred education," as training enrolment in the local hospitality sector declines.

That point was posited during the session on Science, Innovation and Technology during the Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Development, at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, St James, on Monday.

Maria Myers Hamilton, change management consultant and information technology expert, said that enrolment in tourism-based programmes offered by the HEART Trust National Training Agency (HEART/ NTA), for example, declined by 90 per cent up to 2015. As a result of that decline, the sector has been suffering from a lack of properly trained Jamaicans in the industry. She says the gap is most evident in areas outside of the Corporate Area.

"There are not enough people who are competent to carry out the tasks; and that's one the reasons why more are not getting jobs," she opined.

She argued that to address the shortage, a learner-centred approach should be incorporated into training for the hospitality sector, in which teachers become facilitators and coaches who provide structured original content, rather than instructors who dictate vague lessons in a brick and mortar setting.


Explore new models


"The information flow of a traditional classroom: teachers know the information and the students got it from the teachers; and they illustrate how they learnt it. This is the old model of teaching and telling. We are now beyond that," Myers Hamilton emphasised.

"Teachers now have to have appropriate content. It has to be learner-centred," she continued. "So it's not arbitrary or pulling content and, some teachers in some of the tertiary systems are guilty of this. They will go and not create their own content, but rather they will go and collect data and send them (students) to Youtube. What needs to happen is that they need to take that video camera; go out and actually film, go to sites and actually get that cultural experience," she said.

Flipping the classroom for more creativity

Maria Myers Hamilton, change management consultant and information technology expert has said that a blended modality of delivering content in hospitality training, should be explored. One which incorporates technology into the process, to facilitate students' participation in class, away from the classroom, she said.

"The flipped classroom is [about] making a connection with the learners; and creating different integrating instructions. It's allowing that learner to utilise their creativity and to blend that knowledge and learn," she said, underscoring that it was not simply about learning by watching videos.

Myers Hamilton added that the evaluation system also needs to be improved to accommodate the combined evaluation of employers and students' peers.

"The appraisal process has to be tied back to education," she stated. "I go to UWI; I go to UTech, I go to HEART; and I learn about customer service; but nobody's really following through [to determine if] I'm really learning customer service," she charged.

The Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Developmentis being hosted by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), World Bank Group, Inter-American Development Bank and the Ministry of Tourism with major sponsorship from Airbnb, AM Resorts, Chukka Cove, The Jamaica National Group and Sandals, from November 27-29.