Rotary Club and Korean NGO help low-income youngsters enter hospitality industry.
Sri Lanka is facing a growing shortage of suitably skilled hotel and hospitality staff. This is particularly the case in Negombo, the west-coast ‘gateway to Sri Lanka’ beach resort with more hotels and restaurants for its size than anywhere else on the island. But a recent agreement between the Rotary Club of Negombo, backed by Negombo Hoteliers Association (NHA), and an established local hotel and hospitality training school is poised to help ease the situation.
The agreement is primarily intended to help Sri Lanka’s low-income and underprivileged young demographic find careers in the hotel and hospitality industries that might otherwise not be available to them.
The school—the Korea Lanka School of Hospitality and Hotel Management (KLS) in Wattala, north of the capital Colombo—is run by Good Partners, an international NGO based in South Korea.
Its six-month courses cover professional cookery, food and beverage, hotel housekeeping and front office by combining three months of classroom-based theory with three months of industrial training.
In a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with KLS, the Negombo Rotary Club will enlist the help of Sri Lanka’s 69 Rotary Clubs and 80 Rotaract Clubs to find 40 suitable applicants per course on an ongoing basis.
Outside the terms of the MOU, the Negombo club will also help students find paid internships at hotels locally and throughout Sri Lanka when they graduate.
According to the MOU, the school “shall provide admission primarily for those candidates having financial difficulties and from relatively poor homes who could not otherwise have access to education in this field”.
It will also provide “free education, free practical uniforms, free meals whilst on academic sessions, and free hostel facilities and meals for male students who are coming from far distance”.
Freddie Croos is the president of the Rotary Club of Negombo, past president of the NHA, and managing director of Paradise Beach hotel in Negombo.
After signing the MOU, he said that the mission of the school—“to promote economic empowerment for marginalized youth in Sri Lanka”—closely mirrors the aims of all Rotary clubs in Sri Lanka.
He is already negotiating to find internships for 80 graduates from two previous courses, at least 20 of which will be in Negombo hotels and the rest at properties throughout the island.
He said: “This is an ideal opportunity for Rotary Clubs in Sri Lanka to fulfil their mission to support local communities while also helping ease the shortage of skilled staff at all levels in the hotel and hospitality industries.”
Meanwhile, Good Partners notes that its links with Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (SLITHM) provides professional training for Sri Lanka youth while partnering with “major hotels in Sri Lanka to create employment opportunities”.
It says: “The school is grounded on the fundamental evidence that if young people have sufficient incomes and resources to sustain productive lives, they can generate an economic opportunity and contribute to the wider good and care for others.”