Queen Rania Inaugurates Madaba Training Centre for Hospitality Industry Workers

January 29, 2007

(Linda Hindi, Jordan Times –  Amman) –  Her Majesty Queen Rania inaugurated a training centre in Madaba that will guarantee careers in the tourism industry for its participants.

The vocational training facility for specialised training in the hotel and tourism sector is now the “model centre of excellence” that will serve as a template for 10 other centres around the country.

“With 12,000 additional hotel bedrooms being built over the next five years, the tourism industry will need an additional 29,000 skilled workers. The training centres play a valuable role bridging the workforce and skills gap,” Joseph Ruddy, component leader at the Jordan Tourism Development Project, Siyaha, told The Jordan Times.

According to Ruddy, the training centres are just one component that will contribute 4,200 trainees, while industry members such as hotels and universities are also producing qualified workers to fill the anticipated positions.

In his address at the event, Minister of Labour Bassem Salem said the project was developed in line with the objectives of the National Agenda, which identifies job creation and skill development as one of its main priorities.

“The Jordanian workforce is anticipated to grow around 4 per cent in the next 10 years. It is for this reason that sustainable development through training and employment will continue… where we will strive to prepare Jordanians for lifelong learning to progressively work in higher value-added occupations,” Salem said.

In cooperation with the Ministry of Labour, the Vocational Training Corporation, and the hospitality industry, USAID-funded Siyaha designed a new curriculum for hospitality skills training in addition to producing 3,600 books and 100 manuals for students and teachers.

The trainees will attend a one-year course — six months in the centre and six months at selected hotels — before taking on their guaranteed job placements. The course, which includes 120 hours of English language instruction, is free for the trainees and includes a small stipend to cover travelling costs.

USAID Mission Director Anne Aarnes told The Jordan Times that the Tourism Industry, the second largest generator of foreign exchange, “is one of the most promising in Jordan and has the potential to create more jobs than any other sector.”

The ministries of labour and tourism, along with the VTC and Siyaha, signed a memorandum with 35 industry partners in the hotel and tourism sector last year, to develop a stronger workforce. “This was the first time agreements were signed to guarantee career opportunities after training,” Ruddy said.

Hotels had previously complained that the VTC facilities were producing unprofessional and non-driven graduates because the curriculum was outdated, the centres were not properly equipped and some of the teachers have never even been inside a hotel.

“Students were just not seeing that they had the opportunity for a high-profile respectable job,” Mona Sami, area director of human resources at the InterContinental Hotel, said.

“Once employed, the hotel will pay at least the minimum wage, plus service charges are distributed equally averaging an additional JD120… that is besides the tips they receive from customers, Sami said. She added that transportation and uniforms are paid for, and for hard workers there is always room for promotion and salary raises.

“This project will tell people in a country where poverty is growing that there is real opportunity for work to improve their standard of life,” Susanne Grigoleit, Labour Ministry adviser, told The Jordan Times, adding that 60 trainees are learning service, kitchen and housekeeping skills at the centre, which is promoting equal gender opportunities in a society that frowns upon women working in hotels.

“We are trying to create an awareness that this is a great opportunity for women… it’s a safe and clean environment with flexible hours,” Grigoleit said.

A 22-year-old student in her fourth month of training was pleasantly surprised when her family completely changed its views after the centre invited trainees’ families to see how hotel employees work in a professional environment with constant supervision.

“At first I felt it was shameful for a girl wearing the hijab to work in the hospitality industry, but during the training I discovered that this was not the case at all and the atmosphere is clean and respectable. Now, my three sisters are applying to the programme,” Manar Masanda told The Jordan Times.

The trainees were also impressed with the new teaching techniques that are motivational and the re-vamped facility that simulates a working hotel.

“I am happy, the facility is great, I am improving my English and the teachers here are focused on teaching us what we need to know… not letting us graduate until we are up to their standards,” 20-year-old Khamees Abu Joudeh said.