The government needs to set in place a better education and training system that is capable of satisfying the specific needs of the State’s booming tourism sector. Sabah Tourist Guides Association (STGA), in highlighting this yesterday, said most institutions offering training in tourism in Sabah do not properly screen their students to ensure that they have the qualities needed for the industry.
As a result, most of the students do not even make it into the industry after completing their studies, according to the association’s honorary welfare officer, Marry Ann C Degullacion.
Except for a very small percentage, she said some of the lucky ones who managed to land a job in the field they studied were likely to quit or be fired not long after they started because they lacked the required skills and passion.
“The fact is that education today, like any other industry, is driven by profit. Nothing wrong with that as long as it is not too focused solely on money making.
“It is sad to say but for some of these institutions the students only go as far as their education loan. Once they settled their fees, that is the end for them,” she said.
She was presenting the outcome of a group discussion during the Luncheon Talk between government officers and representatives from major industries here.
Senior officers from leading organizations under the plantation, tourism, oil and gas, agro processing and automotive sectors attended the half-day discussion facilitated by the Department of Skills Development.
A representative from each industry presented the outcome of their respective group discussions, highlighting pressing issues facing their businesses, in particular those concerning the training of skilled workers.
Marry Ann suggested that a special body be set up to monitor job placements of students from tertiary education institutions, to keep watch on both the quality and marketability of the students they produced.
This monitoring body, she stressed, must have a high standard for quality as it would determine the quality of the workers to be sent into the industry.
On another note, she said the authorities also needed to tighten the enforcement of laws governing the tourism industry, especially the tour guide sector.
“Tour guiding has become a cut-throat industry partly due to loose monitoring and enforcement by the authorities.
“There are for instance tour guides who don’t bother about renewing their licenses and make even more money operating illegally as unlicensed guides. On the other hand, there are tour guides who become taxi drivers because they would earn more driving cabs,” she said.
Earlier, she told the dialogue that there was still a need for more qualified tour guides, especially those who are proficient in English and other major foreign languages.
“English speaking guides are still very much lacking to support the industry in Sabah. We are also in need of guides who speak Russian, German and even Indonesian, to name a few,” she said.
In this regard, she suggested that more emphasis should be given on training new tour guides, apart from re-training existing ones and those who had left but wanted to rejoin the profession.
As Sabah is popular for its diving spots, she also suggested dive masters to be trained as qualified tour guides so that they can at least give a more accurate information about the State’s other attractions when visitors ask them.
She also proposed that Sabah should recruit more skilled lifeguards, pointing out that the many resorts and tourism spots in the State do not have sufficient or barely have any of this vital safety personnel at all.
Source: Borneo Post (by Murib Morpi)