A recent report on the Malta Independent stated that: “As from October, the Mediterranean Hotels and Restaurants Academy will start offering a number of courses with the aim of providing continuous professional development to all those working in the accommodation and entertainment industry. The academy aims to bridge the gap between formal training and employer demands. The courses will vary from basic training for beginners to become waiters, receptionists and housekeepers up to specialised training in e-commerce, marketing and financial planning.”
I have to admit that this was surprising news. Why should the MHRA set-up an academy that gathers all private companies and institutions that provide training services in tourism and hospitality to provide new courses in the important subjects?
Isn’t this supposed to be the job of ITS?
The media event that surrounded the news was deemed so important that it was attended and lauded by Tourism Minister Mario de Marco. Readers must keep in mind that the MTA together with people such as Joe Tanti of the Malta Business Bureau (who is also a member of the ITS Board of Governors) had already launched the Advance course of tourism management training, once again bypassing ITS and showing the Ministry of Tourism’s lack of trust in this institution.
Maltastar received a lot of calls from ITS lecturers who argued that the MHRA initiative shows that despite the management’s continuous bragging, especially that of chairperson Claire Zammit Xuereb, that ITS will work much closer to the Hospitality Industry, it seems that the same industry is ignoring Ms. Zammit Xuereb by turning to private training companies.
According to Minister de Marco, the MHRA Academy will complement ITS and its first course will focus on training waiters. It seems that the Minister is now aware that the most popular course at ITS is the Food Preparation and Service Course (FPS) that provides a steady stream of well-trained waiters every year?
It seems that MHRA is not satisfied with the Institute’s performance. Maybe the focus on very basic courses such as the Foundation and the Certificate courses has something to do with this state of affairs?
If MHRA is not satisfied with the level of instruction at ITS and the latter is not working hard enough to provide for the local tourism industry, what is the real function of ITS?
The MHRA Academy is also a certificate of failure for the ITS management controlled by Claire Zammit Xuereb who was specifically chosen by Minister Dolores Cristina two and half years ago and lauded as a breath of fresh air for the Institution.
The fresh air quickly turned stale as Claire Zammit Xuereb heavy-handedly rampaged through the Institute, and Maltastar would like to remind its readers what she said in a Times interview exactly two years ago:
Recently appointed Institute of Tourism Studies chairman Claire Zammit Xuereb aspires to have the St Julian’s campus run similarly to a hospitality business to narrow the gap between the school and the industry.
“Under this strategy, our 1,000-odd students would have the opportunity to learn in the environment that they will eventually work in,” Ms Zammit Xuereb told The Times Business. “Attitude, approach, inter-personal skills and personality are crucial attributes students must possess before they enter this business. Tourism is a ‘people industry’. In this way, I hope to narrow the gap between ITS and the tourism sector by implementing certain practices, procedures, environments pertaining to the industry in the school itself. When students eventually enter the working world, the shock to their system should be significantly reduced.
“I aim to bring ITS in line with the industry’s ever-changing requirements,” she said. “My focus is the curriculum for 2011-2012 and the intention is to change all the modules. This year will be more about observing the market’s needs. Next year will be more about change.”
It seems that Ms. Zammit Xuereb failed “to narrow the gap between the school and the industry” or else the MHRA wouldn’t have taken the trouble of setting up an Academy to provide training in tourism and hospitality.
She also failed” to bring ITS in line with the industry’s ever-changing requirements”, or else MHRA of which she was an active committee member would not have taken the decision to launch an Academy that directly undermines her “work” at ITS.
The bottom line is that MHRAs move is a scathing proof of the way ITS management under the control of Claire Zammit Xuereb failed in their bid to improve the important tourism institution and have actually led to its demise with a focus on basic courses, a lack of higher courses and a legal status that wanted to send people to jail and does not present a coherent and realistic view of the Institute’s future.
The management has not only managed to demotivate the entire Institute’s staff, but deconstruct all the positive work done prior to its appointment. This has resulted in ITS becoming a second-rate remedial school for academically challenged students who should be attending to special schools equipped with all the proper tools and qualified teachers to help them.
The fact that the Institute has already extended the date of applications of the 2012/2013 intake is another indication that parents and students are looking at the school suspiciously, and would probably prefer to apply for an MCAST course or maybe, even a new MHRA Academy course.
This is a direct result of Claire Zammit Xuereb’s uninformed intervention that has left a legacy of failure.
Maltastar.com has received the following comment from the Malta Hotels and Restaurants' Association (MHRA) which it is publishing in full:
The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association categorically dissociates itself from the article published on you portal 0n the 23 September 2011, “MHRA takes over ITS’ function.” As has been stated on various occasions the MHR Academy aims to enable synergies amongst established learning partner organisations in delivering continuous professional development programmes with a view to upgrade the skills base in the Tourism and Hospitality Industry.
The MHR Academy aims to complement the work being carried out by the ITS and any implication that this initiative is being carried out as a result of dissatisfaction with the way ITS is currently being managed is completely false.
MHRA asserts that ITS has embarked upon an important restructuring programme and enjoys its full support. MHRA and ITS have always enjoyed an excellent relationship and the MHR Academy is an initiative which is opening up new channels for collaboration in particular at an international level.