Young Maldivians are becoming increasingly ambitious in their desire to be professionally successful, even compared to the generation of 10 years ago.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony for the Four Seasons apprenticeship program, held in Male’ this morning, Regional Vice President and General Manager for the Maldives Armando Kraenzlin observed a change in the outlook of students compared to when the resort began its training program a decade ago.
“The outlook of the students has changed, they have become more ambitious,” he said. “They come to the trainer asking “‘I want to learn a la carte and Flamberge.’ That is not something you would have heard 10 years ago.”
“Jobs were also taken for the money, not because people wanted to start a career or had a vision of themselves as successful in a particular field,” he said, adding that there was a noticeable difference in attitude between young staff starting work now, and those who had been employed 10 years ago.
Student interests had also changed, Kraenzlin noted.
“Ten years ago they all wanted to do housekeeping. Two years later it was diving. This year there’s been a run on the kitchen – 10 years ago it was impossible to convince young men to work in the kitchen – cooking was seen as a woman’s job.”
A ceremony was held this morning to mark the graduation of 30 apprentices for 2011, and inaugrate 40 into the class of 2012. It is the Maldives’ first technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) certified apprenticeship scheme, and claims almost all students get a job on graduation.
“10 years ago if you needed a waiter you would look to India or Sri Lanka, and it was impossible to find a Maldivian chef,” Kraenzlin said, noting that the resort received over 200 applications for the program.
Such is the demand that the Four Seasons’ apprenticeship scheme, which runs at the company’s two resorts at Landaa Giraavaru and Kuda Huraa, has now expanded to the point where it requires four full-time staff.
“We’ve essentially become a school,” Kraenzlin said. “It used to be that we would train apprentices for ourselves, but it has taken time and resources to meet the TVET demands.
“At the same time, there’s no full-time teachers besides the English teacher, so restaurant and housekeeping staff have to embrace teaching in addition to their own jobs.”
It was a balancing act, he explained: “The General Manager should be running the business, not giving wine courses, for instance.”
Despite the extra demands, Four Seasons was looking to expand the program up to TVET certification level three, and then to a full diploma.
“Ten years ago if you needed a waiter you would look to India or Sri Lanka, and it was impossible to find a Maldivian chef,” Kraenzlin said. “Now there are young people saying they want to introduce the world to Maldivian cuisine.”
Tourism Minister Mariyam Zulfa, who attended the ceremony this morning, said the government was looking to replicate the success of the Four Seasons apprenticeship program with other resorts in the country, and was conducting a program to raise awareness among young people as to the professional opportunities in the tourism sector.
“The new constituition allows for freedom of expression and assembly, in cases where employers are not meeting their conditions,” she said. “One way to reduce discontent is to provide training opportunities as well as make a conscious attempt to care for staff.”
One apprentice graduating this year, Yoosuf Shan, said that the course was challenging when he began as he was “totally new to the industry.”
“Another apprentice told me that whenever you reach a tough point, don’t say ‘Why me?’. Instead say: ‘Try me,’” he said.