Actively seeking to fulfill a timely requirement, Private Sector Tourism Skills Committee (TSC) launched Tourism Workforce Competitiveness Roadmap in collaboration with the private tourism industry to take on the challenge of demonstrating to Sri Lanka’s young women and men that a career in the fast-growing tourism and hospitality industry can be safe, stimulating, well-compensated and full of opportunities for growth. Formulated under special request from TVEC and the Ministry of Skills Development and Vocational Training to urgently respond to the critical workforce challenges and skills supply in tourism, TSC also plans to ensure that the courses available in training institutes are practical, aligned with market needs, and taught according to global best practices. PTSC was formulated under special request from TVEC and the Ministry of Skills Development and Vocational Training to urgently respond to the critical workforce challenges and skills supply in tourism. TSC is explicitly private sector-led and voluntary.
Elaborating on the focus of the roadmap, TSC Chairman Malik Fernando, Managing Director of Dilmah Tea’s leisure arm Resplendent Ceylon said, “Please don’t call it a strategy. We have too many of those and no one ever seems to act on them. This roadmap is a call to action. We hope others will join us, but we don’t intend to wait.”
The TSC has already prioritized a list of entry-level courses they intend to update with the assistance of TVEC and SLITHM, as well as new courses Sri Lanka needs to introduce to keep pace with global trends.
Speaking at the launch, USAID’s Mission Director to Sri Lanka and Maldives, Reed Aeschliman said, “This roadmap demonstrates the kind of vision, leadership, and cooperation from the private sector that is needed to ensure Sri Lanka gets the most from its incredibly talented young women and men.”
The roadmap was facilitated by renowned international experts James MacGregor and SrilalMiththapala and brought together by some of the leading minds in the industry; Malik Fernando - Director at MJF Group, Dilmah Tea - Resplendent Ceylon, Angeline Ondaatjie - Managing Director Tangerine Group of Hotels & Tangerine Tours Sri Lanka, ShiromalCooray - Managing Director at Jetwing Travels, JayantissaKehelpannala - Executive VP & Head-Maldivian Resorts, John Keells, SanathUkwatte - Chairman at Mount Lavinia Hotel & President THASL, ChaminWickramasinghe - Director / CEO of Theme Resorts & Spas, DileepMudadeniya - John Keells Group Head of Brand Marketing, Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts, Timothy Wright - Vice President & General Manager at Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo, Steven Bradie-Miles – Center Director William Angliss Colombo Academy of Hospitality Management, PreshanDissanayake - Managing Director, Thambapanni Leisure (SME Sector). Ex-Officio Members included BuddhikaHewawasam – Director General/CEO, SLITHM, KavanRatnayake – Chairman, SLTDA, ManjulaVidanapathirana – Acting Director Industry Liaison, TVEC, Chandra Vithanage – Senior Assistant Secretary General Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. Further HiranCooray, PremaCooray, and Abbas Esufally acted as senior advisors to PTSC.
KavanRatnayake, Chairman of SLTDA and ex-officio member of TSC applauded the efforts of the council, “We’ve worked with most of these companies and many more to draft the Tourism Strategic Plan 2017-2020. It’s extremely encouraging to see a few of them taking action. I hope the rest of the industry joins in. If that happens, SLTDA will be there to help.”
One theme in TSC’s roadmap is to encourage more women to enter the industry. The launch screened a video produced by YouLead on Women in Tourism. The World University Service of Canada (WUSC) is using the video in a joint national campaign to change attitudes toward vocational education—particularly among women.
“I love tourism, it has been an amazing career for me” revealed ShiromalCooray, TSC’s Vice Chair and Managing Director at Jetwing Travels, “Unfortunately many young women and their parents don’t know how interesting and fulfilling it can be. We need to show them. I need to show them. This industry can’t grow if half of our workforce sits on the sidelines.”
The roadmap is driven by the TSC with the support of the Technical and Vocational Education Commission (TVEC) of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Research, Skills Development and Vocational Training &Kandyan Heritage; the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA); the Sri Lanka Institute for Tourism and Hotel Management (SLITHM); the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC); and the Youth Employment and Business Start-up Program (YouLead). YouLead is a $ 12 million project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by International Executive Service Corps (IESC).
In a video message to attendees at the launch, Hon. SarathAmunugama, Minister of Science, Technology, Research, Skills Development and Vocational Training and Kandyan Heritage welcomed private sector participation in the training of Sri Lanka’s youth. The minister also pledged to extend his fullest support through the ministry to take this initiative forward.
The full Tourism Workforce Competitiveness Roadmap is available on the SLTDA website at: http://www.sltda.gov.lk, and on the TVEC website at http://www.tvec.gov.lk/.