Over 70 per cent of employees in the country’s hospitality industry lack formal education.
Utalii College Principal Kazungu Mwango said lack of professional training in the industry was affecting the sector, which has over 400,000 staff.
Citing a 2014 survey report, Mr Mwango said the gap is too big considering that the sector plays contributes significantly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
In order to narrow the gap, the college has signed a partnership with counties to to boost training in the sector.
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“We have set the ball rolling by mapping out the gaps and we have identified the needs for counties such as Busia and Turkana. We are keen on roping in the Coast and the Rift Valley regions as we cover the entire country,” he said.
The principal was speaking on the sidelines of the annual Utalii refresher course for hotel staff covering North Coast and Watamu/Malindi where over 200 employees underwent a two-week course.
He said the well-trained manpower was at the supervisory and management level.
Tourism Executive Binti Omar who presided over the event praised the college for its role in the tourism industry.
“I wish to salute Utalii College as it continues to make its contribution to the development of the tourism and hospitality industry through these refresher courses,” she said.
Sam Ikwaye, the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (Kahc) Coast branch chief executive, came to the defence of the untrained staff and said despite their informal training, they had acquired vast experience in the job.
“Malindi and Watamu regions including the upper north have the biggest challenge due to the seasonality component. Most middle-level managers have moved to other emerging destinations with Nairobi, Rift Valley and Western being beneficiaries,” Mr Ikwaye said.
He added that other East African Community states have also benefited from the seasonality component at the coast. The hospitality industry has formed the Tourism Professional Association (TPA) to propagate and safeguard the profession.
“We are looking to Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala to give us support and ensure that TPA’s formation is fast tracked so as to secure the profession and guide its development.