Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What ticks at the Vanuatu Hospitality and Tourism School

By Alcina Charlie, VTO Senior Communications: On Monday this week, I was invited by a student of the Vanuatu School of Tourism and Hospitality, Jim Talivo, to be a guest in his practical exam. When asked exactly what I was to do, Jim replied “Just turn up and I will serve you lunch while my supervisors and examiners mark me in various categories”. Jim is a family relation but I saw the offer as an excellent opportunity to also write news on the Vanuatu Tourism School’s latest developments. I made contact with Mr Johnny Garae, Head Of Vanuatu school of Hospitality & Tourism, and arrived at the school as planned. The institution’s front house lobby had a touch of boutique with a comfortable lounge, a vase on the counter with fresh flowers and gingers which accompanied the receptionist’s smile and her meet & greet. I was warmly welcomed. Immediately, Mr Garae came to see me and we got on with the interview in the lobby. I was briefed on the school’s developments and the practical exams that the students have been going through and will complete next week. Approximately, there are 130 students going through their practical exams in the following areas: kitchen, restaurant, and house-keeping. This week was allocated for the kitchen students, which I was fortunate to watch them briefly prepare lunch whilst examiners observed and kept a good look out. They were marking the students in various categories and their performance.
When I asked how long the courses run for, Mr Garae replied “Our school courses run for 13 months, including 12 weeks of work experience in the hotels, resorts and tour companies”, he continued, “Overall 30% of what the students learn is in theory, and 70% is practical to examine and monitor student’s competence in the work place.”
The practical courses cover 5-6 modules for Certificate 1 and 2. APTC, which is a sister school to the Vanuatu Tourism School, offers Certificate 3  but students need to graduate with Vanuatu Hospitality & Tourism school’s Certificate 1 &2 before they can continue onto Certificate 3 course offered by APTC.
The Vanuatu Tourism School was originally funded by European Union in 2006 under a five year contract. The contract ended in December last year and the school is currently under VIT through TVET supported via the school’s short courses, functions, and events as supplementary.
A major event that the school hosted was the Africa Caribbean Pacific opening cocktail in June, plus few events hosted by various Ministers and Government reps. The school is very popular with resorts and hotels that have frequently asked the school for their student waiters and waitresses.
Mr Garae commented, “As years pass, I see that more and more students are applying for our courses and entering into Tourism and Hospitality. The passion has grown much more than a few years back and I realize that industry demands for my students including tour companies, caterers, and event organizers, have increased”.
Mr Garae beamed with pride and said, “I know many of graduates, within their 3 years of working in hotels, resorts and tour companies, they are getting promoted into supervisor and manager roles, which I’m very proud of.” 
Mr Garae furthered, “This school also trains outer islands intakes through an MOU signed between the school and VODKA last year, so we are not only helping students based here in Vila but also the provinces which benefit the entire country and boosts capacities in tourism and hospitality throughout all our islands.”
After the interview, my morning ended nicely with a delicious lunch that was beautifully presented, followed by a brief chat with Jim. Jim has enjoyed his exam and 12 month courses which he went through learning waitering, bar tender, cashier register, and hosting. The 19 year old student is looking forward to his graduation next year in March and eventually hopes to work in the cruise ships after a few years or so in a resort, a humble answer to ensuring that a father remains proud of his son’s achievement so his investment does not go to waste.
Jim ends with, “I’m only young but I want to take my life seriously and strive to work to my best so I can be successful now and in the future. This is the only way my family can prosper and have a better life.”
The VTO congratulates & acknowledges Mr Johnny Garae and his team at the Vanuatu Hospitality and Tourism School, for their outstanding efforts in building the necessary skills required in the field of hospitality and tourism.