"Bridging the Gap Between Hospitality Education and Practical Realities" - TTU
By: Sharckles and Ekua Stephens - Kyzzfmonline
August 25, 2023

On the margins of the Ghana Hotels Association's (GHA) Hotel Business Forum organized at Raybow Hotel, Dr.(Mrs.) Eudora Hagan discussed the challenges encountered by the hospitality department at Takoradi Technical University in effectively preparing students for the hospitality industry.

Interviewer (Sharckles): How frequently do the lecturers themselves participate in industrial attachments and internships?

Dr. Eudora: During every extended vacation, we have some lecturers undertaking internships. Although it is mandatory for everyone, not all staff are able to go at the same time. So, one or two lecturers are selected from each department to engage in internship activities during the extended vacation.

Sharckles: Do they often stay in hotels during these internships?

Dr. Eudora: It's not definite whether they stay in hotels, as some may prefer their own homes. While a few opt for hotels, others find their own accommodations.

Dignitaries, including Nana Kobina Nketsiah

Sharckles: We've noticed a gap between the practices abroad and what is taught here, despite some lecturers experiencing internships in foreign hotels. Could you explain why this gap exists and persists in training students?

Dr. Eudora: The primary issue is related to resources. Some of our staff have gained experience in countries like Switzerland, Holland, and the United States. However, implementing these practices becomes challenging in our context due to limited resources. The theoretical aspects are easier to convey, but practical application suffers due to inadequate internships and industry exposure resources.

Dr. Edward Nyameke Ackah, GHA President.

Sharckles: Despite learning practices abroad, there seems to be a discrepancy between foreign and local hotels. What steps will the university take to address this and improve training?

Dr. Eudora: Although some staff have worked in high-end hotels abroad, not all hotels in Ghana meet those standards. In Ghana, only a few hotels adhere to such benchmarks. To enhance training, the university does not rely solely on government promises for resources. Writing grant proposals has been the focus of obtaining the necessary equipment for training, especially in fields like hospitality and engineering. Though engineering has secured more grants, efforts are being made to support other departments, including hospitality, which is experiencing an increase in student numbers.

JamKay, GHA Western Regional Boss

Sharckles: Could the theoretical approach not bridge the training gap and better prepare students for the industry?

Dr. Eudora: The theoretical aspect isn't the main concern; it's more about attitudes. Some students possess knowledge and exposure, but their attitudes hinder success. The industry often complains about students' attitudes, including lateness, early departures, unauthorized absences, and reluctance to take on different roles. While some students are genuinely passionate and committed, a significant portion seems more focused on obtaining degrees, resulting in challenges during practical sessions.

Dr. Mrs. Eudora Hagan, Head of Department 

Department of Tourism Management, TTU.

Additionally, resource constraints worsen the situation. With a large number of students, individual attention becomes difficult. We lack adequate facilities for practical sessions; for instance, we have only one demonstration kitchen for over 300 hospitality students.

This hampers our ability to provide hands-on training effectively within the semester's time frame. Consequently, only those truly dedicated to learning gain the necessary skills, while others miss out due to a lack of seriousness.

Some students merely seek jobs rather than aiming to truly excel in the industry. Many capable students face interview rejections due to salary expectations, leading to the employment of less committed candidates.

"To sum up, a complex interplay of factors, including resource limitations, attitudes, and the balance between theoretical and practical training, contribute to the challenges we face in preparing students for the industry."