India’s Planning Commission had recommended that the government focus on regulating the booming tourism and hospitality sectors in the country, leaving private sector firms to address issues related to educating and training people, including tour guides, for careers in these.
The recommendations of the commission, India’s apex planning agency, come at a time when most experts admit that there is a significant gap between demand and supply of trained people in the hospitality and tourism businesses.
“There is acute shortage of manpower in the tourism industry. To develop the sector, a much wider initiative needs to be taken in the area of hotel management and related fields. Here, private sector participation will go a long way in creating the required manpower,” said Anwarul Hoda, member, Planning Commission. Hoda added that state governments could help private sector firms start and run hotel management schools by allotting land to them at reasonable rates or through long-term leases.
According to some estimates, India has around a million hotel rooms, one-tenth of which are in the so-called star hotels. The number of rooms is increasing rapidly across the country, especially in centres of business such as Bangalore and Mumbai. In New Delhi, new hotels are coming up to meet an expected rise in demand in 2010 on account of the Commonwealth Games that the city will host that year.
Hoda heads a high-level group on the service sector. A recent report brought out by the group, which also includes members from the private sector, says the annual requirement of manpower in hotel industry is at least 200,000. Of this, 69,000 people are required at the managerial level.
Today, only 18,000 students graduate every year from the 26 institutes of hotel management (IHMs) funded by assistance provided by the Union government and the 125 private institutes attached to various universities.
These are supplemented by six Food Craft Institutes (FCIs) run by the Union government and 20 other private sector schools.
Hoda added that the attrition rate of more than 35% in the hospitality sector makes it all the more difficult for the industry to survive. “This trend suggests that there should always be surplus manpower to fill the shortage,” he said.
While 12 more IHMs and four more FCIs are in the pipeline, the high-level group on services says more are needed. It has suggested the creation of private sector-led development councils which could promote the running of courses and training programmes and define curricula for these, while the two apex bodies, National Council of Hotel Management and Catering Technology (NCHMCT) and the Indian Institute of Travel and Tourism Management (IITM), could hold examinations and grant degrees and diplomas.
Sanjeev Bikhchandani, Co-Founder and CEO, InfoEdge India Ltd, which runs the job portal Naukri.com, said involvement of the private sector could solve the problem of manpower shortage in several disciplines, including hotel management.
“Massive investments are required in courses such as hotel management where private educational institutions, as also industry that require these talent, can be partners. Besides, companies hiring these graduates should be able to pay well so that there is less attrition,” Bikhchandani added.