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Phuket's future depends on it  . . . and Thailand makes it a habit

Marriott and Songkla Aim to Lift Resort Standards

Saturday, August 8, 2009
ALL RESORTS on Phuket are expected to benefit from a new alliance between Prince of Songkla University and the Marriott group.

''Skills are the key,'' says the Dean of Hospitality and Tourism, at Songkla, Dr Sumas Wongsunopparat, a former professor at Cornell University in the US.

''We want to equip people as they study, rather than have different levels of training. It will also give us the capacity to have the most professional teaching by those who know.''

Students in the third and fourth years of four-year courses will gain initially as experts from within the industry educate them about their choices of careers.

Marriott, with its high standards and global reach, is seen as the front, driving wheel of Dr Sumas's ''Tuk Tuk'' human resources model in which the industry is also supported by the rear wheels of research and education.

The concept was launched yesterday at a gathering at the JW Marriott in Mai Khao.

Signing up for the initial project are JW Marriott Phuket Resort and Spa, Courtyard by Marriott Phuket Hotels; Courtyard Kamala, Courtyard Surin and Courtyard Patong.

''We are starting out with Marriott but other resorts are welcome to join,'' Dr Sumas said. ''We want our students to understand the issues of the entire industry as well as developing individual skills.''

New technology plus new management and service techniques would be essential aspects of the upscaled courses.

Dr Sumas is hoping that Phuket's advanced education in hospitality and tourism will attract international students once its benefits are recognised.

He is hoping the new process will also overcome the time wasted when people try out a job for which they have no particular aptitude.

Their special skills can now be tested at university instead. ''At PSU we will be looking to tailor-fit students to the industry's desired roles for them,'' says a statement announcing the rationale behind the partnership.

''Current hospitality programs have not figured out how to properly prepare their students for real world situations and this has raised costs for hotels that hire these students.

''Graduate and undergraduate students do not necessarily fit well with the expectations of their employers, and this leads to high turnover, inconsistent service levels, and high recruiting, training, and development costs for employers.

''In an industry such as hospitality, which faces high costs of labor and volatile/seasonal demand, employers will need the right amount of well-trained employees at the right time.

''Also, with the global recession projected to negatively affect the economy for at least the next couple years, existing labor models will not be profitable in the market.''

The official title for the program is the rather cumbersome 'Marriott-DNA PSU-Certified Customized Program (MDPC)'.

''PSU teaming up with Marriott will allow us to come up with a new HR model for the hospitality industry,'' the rationale goes.

''PSU will be leading the way in academics and Marriott will be able to become the first industry player to enjoy this new HR model.''

The partnership program starts immediately.

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