Pratham & Taj empower the youth

News, Hospitality Trends

Reaching out to the rural unemployed youth, social NGO Pratham and the Taj Group have initiated a hospitality training programme to bring them into the mainstream, says Syed Ameen Kader.

In an effort to support the less fortunate section of society, Pratham, an NGO which works towards providing quality education and training, has taken a joint initiative with Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces, to set up the PACE Hospitality Training Centre in Aurangabad.

“The hospitality sector needs lots of skilled people, and rural youth who are educated but unemployed need openings, so we are just trying to go where bigger institutes can’t and create this kind of training programme,” said Madhav Chavan, co-founder, trustee and director – programme, Pratham. The centre has come up with two courses of four months duration each, on food and beverage services, and housekeeping.

As part of its social responsibility to build sustainable livelihood, Taj has partnered with the programme to help those marginalised youth who are not from urban areas. “Taj’s core competence is hospitality, so we thought we must partner with people like Pratham who will do the infrastructure, while we can come in as the knowledge partner,” said Vasant Ayyappan, director, corporate sustainability at Indian Hotels Company Limited.

Designed by the faculty of Institute of Hotel Management (IHM), the curriculum offers not only training, but also grooming on personal hygiene, self development, and spoken English, which are very critical for working in the hospitality industry.

“We constantly modify the content to keep it in line with the current industry requirements. The faculties have also been trained for four months under master trainers from Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai. We constantly supervise the standards that have been maintained there to make sure that these boys who complete their course become immediately employable,” said Ayyappan.

Established last year, the institute has already seen three batches pass out successfully and get placed at various Taj properties. “We have absorbed 100% students from these initial three batches because of our requirement,” said Ayyappan.

They have been taken in as apprentices with a monthly salary of Rs3,500 plus boarding and lodging. Ayyappan observed that since these students come from very different backgrounds, they are sincere and hard working. Chavan says there is clearly a huge demand for skilled resource in the hospitality sector, with insufficient supply.

“What we are trying to do is now develop more trainers so that we can multiply our capacity. Instead of generating 300-to-400 students per year, we would like to engage ten times that number, with training. So the challenge is to increase the resource that can handle it,” he added.

Pratham is looking to partner with other hospitality players in every possible way to spread this programme in other rural areas. “If we can train people well, I think the response from the hospitality industry will be excellent,” Chavan said.

Currently offering only housekeeping and food and beverage service projects, Ayyappan said they will be opening up with kitchen, bakery, and cookery, classes very soon.

Pratham spends about Rs12,000 per student for this programme which they plan to recover from them in installments. The NGO also bears all the capital expenditure of land, building, and equipment. The Taj Group has come in purely as a knowledge partner and has helped design content. It has also donated some equipment for the project.

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