DUBAI: In the last decade, Dubai has cemented its place as one of the world’s top tourist destinations. With an average of 16 million international visitors, Dubai ranks 4th in the world’s most visited cities ranking.
For this city state, whose economy relies heavily on its steadily growing tourism sector, there is a constant need to have a continuous flow of skilled human resource that has the level of expertise and training required to deliver its promise of a holiday destination for a variety of travellers.
Hence, the need for Dubai College of Tourism (DCT). The DCT is an initiative of the Government of Dubai under the umbrella of the Department of Economy and Tourism as part of a strategy developed in 2013 which recognised that there is a need for a vocational institution to fill in the gaps within the tourism industry.
In 2016, the DCT was established and its first intake was in 2018. The college grants certificate, diploma and advance diploma hospitality, event management, retail, culinary arts and in alignment with the national qualification of the United Arab Emirates.
Interestingly, the DCT is situated within the Department’s premises allowing constant and beneficial interaction for the students with industry professionals.
Speaking exclusively to Business Recorder, Essa Bin Hadher, General Manager of DTC, said, “One of the prominent things and advantage of the DCT is that it sits within the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism premises.
“While that limits the student intake to a maximum of 125, the interaction and experience that the students gain being a part of one of the main departments of Dubai that overlooks a major part of the GDP greatly adds to the value of their qualification.”
According to Hadher, for this young city, the rampant growth in tourism in the last twenty years has put a lot of strain on the available human resources.
Traditionally, most of the required manpower has been sourced from within the region but now the country has enough population internally between UAE nationals and expatriate communities that can be trained for roles in the tourism sector.
“Our concentration is on the residents of UAE and especially on the residents of Dubai due to the proximity of the college to them and the proximity of potential jobs to them. Dubai has the highest inventory of rooms in the region, it has the highest number of attractions in the region, and it also the highest number of events and activities throughout the year. So, there is a huge requirement of human resource to deliver the promise of a wonderful visit to Dubai,” he says.
Talking about training the students to manage a variety of tourists, he said students of DCT are fortunate that most of them were born here or grew up here. They are hence, already exposed to the cosmopolitan lifestyle of Dubai as well as its tradition and culture of inclusivity towards different nationalities, cultural backgrounds, religions etc.
“We in Dubai have always accommodated that — whether it’s at schools, businesses, attractions, events, exhibitions and conferences. We have seen the largest and the best example of this at the Expo 2020,” he added.
The curriculum of DCT is a product of a long initial journey which identified, through research and collaboration, what are the precise skills required by the industry. An advisory council from within the industry, representing all different faculties, was established and the curriculum developed with the guidance of this advisory council keeping in mind what is needed in the next 5-10 years and also what is missing now and what needs to be addressed immediately.
It is a flexible curriculum, revised annually, to suit the needs of the future, i.e. short- and long-term requirements.
Hadher says the DCT has already seen these contents digested by the students really have a positive impact in the work places.
“It really helps the students in their new roles and the employers too are happy to have workers with the required skills. At times, the employers are also members of the advisory board members. So it all works hand in hand and makes a full circle having a skilled person for the shortage of the skills that the industry is having issues with.”
The DCT says it is proud that 85-87% of its students upon graduation are immediately absorbed into the Dubai tourism industry. In fact, most of them get job offers during their internships.
DCT, Hadher says, also owes it to its industry partners who help and assist in exposing their students, during their education, through trips and visitations, to opportunities that broaden their horizon through hands on learning.
“By the time they come to their internship they are actually ready, and they are not walking into a void, and that I think is what makes us so successful.”
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022