The pandemic is receding and tourism is making a strong comeback. The daily news abundantly points out that travel businesses are expanding, hotels are being built, and airlines are buying new aircraft. The opportunities for bright and motivated people to enter the tourism and hospitality industry and, over time, become business leaders and senior managers are thus increasing too.
The key to tourism and hospitality management success is receiving the proper education to maximise managerial skills and knowledge. One innovative solution to prepare students for job readiness in the real world is the work integrated learning (WIL) approach.
This approach is a cornerstone of the Bachelor of Tourism and Hospitality Management program at RMIT University Vietnam. Here, students are exposed to critical knowledge underpinning local and international tourism and hospitality strategies and practices, regulatory bodies and frameworks, management strategies and skills, and crisis and risk management. Students get to hone their leadership, cross-cultural understanding, analytical and technical competencies, problem-solving, and communication.
The program embeds authentic assessment and work integrated learning in all its courses. Typical classroom activities include projects with industry partners to plan and design tourism and hospitality experiences. Learners are given the opportunities to participate in off-site activities, such as experiential learning in a professional kitchen, field trips to learn about ecological problems of tourism sites combined with cleanup activities, visits to hotels and dining venues, etc. Students can also complete a final-year internship that offers more in-depth real-world experience.
Ms Hoang Linh Giang, an RMIT graduate from the class of 2022 and current employee of Sheraton Hanoi Hotel, said: “Having graduated from the RMIT Tourism and Hospitality Management program, I feel fortunate to have experienced work integrated learning which adheres very closely to reality. The 5-star hotel visits, field trips, and flagship internships helped me to develop essential skills like problem-solving, adaptability, and teamwork in order to meet employability requirements.”
Industry partners are a key component of the program, and learners are given access to professional mentors, guest speakers and internship opportunities. The industry links and advisory committee for this program includes representatives of international organisations operating in tourism and hospitality such as the InterContinental Hotels Group, Accor Hotels, Marriott International, Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), government agencies such as Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), and social enterprises such as KOTO and Khau Pha Friends.
Another practical feature is the program structure, comprising three stages of learning experience for students: Year 1 (Explore) where courses are designed to expose students to the industry, Year 2 (Experience) which enables students to have a degree of engagement with the industry via learning activities and assignment relating to the industry, and Year 3 (Engage) allowing students to have a more direct contact with the industry via internships or industry partner projects. This program structure enables learners to progressively build their foundation in three keys areas namely, Tourism, Hospitality and Management.
Dr. Jackie Ong Lei Tin; Dr. Daisy Kanagasapapathy
RMIT University Vietnam