On-the-job training (OJT) or internship gives students their first taste of the real world. This is where they apply what they have learnt in the classroom to actual work situations.
Unfortunately, many students earn their degrees without fully mastering the skills required for a job.
“OJT aims is to ensure that students are ready to join the industry after they graduate. We in the hotel industry put a high importance on OJT because it saves us time and effort to train, and guarantees us that we are getting the right people for the right job,” says Ed Vitug, The Bayleaf Hotels general manager.
This four-star boutique hotel located in the heart of Intramuros has pioneered a program where 30 percent of their workforce is composed of OJT students. The program has earned significant success, among them, earning for Bayleaf Hotel Tripadvisor Traveler’s Choice Award from 2013 to 2016. Bayleaf’s OJT program has also been formally recognized by the Department of Tourism (DOT) which is now implementing it with other hotels.
Making Things Simple
Vitug will share more important insights into the OJT program as he speaks at the Tourism Industry Board Foundation, Inc’s. (TIBFI) 4th Tourism Human Resources Congress on Sept. 25-27, 2017 at the Grand Xing Imperial Hotel in Iloilo City.
Hotels, resorts, and other hospitality companies seem to have very strict OJT rules and standards. Vitug, however, argues that the hospitality industry should simplify the program so that more students could easily learn skills.
“The key to make it work is to simplify. You can do that with manuals and with a more streamlined process of teaching students,” he suggests.
The Bayleaf OJT program also uses the buddy system to facilitate learning where students partner with employees to be able to adopt the standards and systems of the establishment easily.
Every three months, Bayleaf trains 70 to 100 Tourism and Hospitality students, including those from the hotel’s partner university, Lyceum of the Philippines University. This comprises about 30 percent of the workforce at the Bayleaf with plans to increase this number to 40 percent.
“Many general managers are afraid that taking in this much hospitality students will ruin the quality of service in their hotels. However, if they’re trained properly and are guided by the employees training them, it can actually work,” Vitug reassures.
The Bayleaf OJT system also puts full trust in its students who are not just relegated to back-of-the house operations. They are given real tasks that are essential to hotel operations.
However, as early as their OJT program, students are already encouraged to seek the aspect of the job that they want to specialize in. This is because Vitug says it would be impossible to master skills if students constantly change the area they need to work on. “To be a good chef, for example, they need to devote the entirety of their OJT training in the kitchen rather than just two weeks there and another in housekeeping,” Vitug explains.
Students who wish to undergo training at Bayleaf go through a series of interviews beginning with the human resources manager. There students are asked to express which area in hotel operations they wish to specialize in.
Vitug will be speaking at the TIBFI Tourism Human Resources Congress on how to successfully implement an OJT training program for hotels. He reinforces all the standards set by the ASEAN for these internships, including a very important guideline on how to apply for these programs.
“I’m happy to say that we never made a single student pay for being part of the OJT program,” Vitug states. “This should be the standard in all hotels not only in the Philippines, but also the ASEAN.”
He reinforces how these trainings will greatly affect hospitality companies in the future.
“Every company will be able to benefit from OJTs since they are willing to learn, but you don’t necessarily have to pay them. It’s a win-win; students get to apply the skills they learned in school while companies will benefit from the system being cost-effective,” he says.