The challenge lies in getting the numbers up

Ron Hilvert, the managing director and founder of Jumeirah Group’s Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management, talks about Emiratisation.

Jumeirah Group’s Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management is one of the few schools in the region to train students for the sector. Since the Dubai academy opened in 2001, 65 Emiratis have graduated with bachelor of business administration, MBA or associate degrees. It also runs professional courses. This year it has 15 Emiratis out of 300 students from 40 countries. All the Emiratis are financially sponsored. Here, Ron Hilvert, the academy’s managing director and founder, talks about Emiratisation:

Where do most of the Emiratis get placed after graduation?

The first Emirati to graduate was in 2005 and got placed at the presidential office. Since then a number of them have gone to hold positions of operations managers and marketing managers as well as some senior positions. Almost half of the graduates join the Jumeirah Group but some others go to other hotel companies or go abroad for higher studies. Around 35 international and local companies, including the Ritz-Carlton, Hyatt and Four Seasons, hire from here.

What are the challenges of Emiratisation in the hospitality sector?

It is a new career path. It will take some time to understand that hospitality can be a serious career. It is a natural evolution. Around 15 years ago, I can say there were no Emiratis in the hotels sector. And now, there are just around 1,000 in the hotels alone with more in the food and beverage, restaurants, cruise ships and theme parks, among other segments. The way the standards of young Emiratis have improved is unbelievable in terms of academic background and grade point average. The challenge is just getting the numbers to grow.

Would you recommend a quota for Emiratis in this sector?

No, but it is a government decision. Personally, the problem with a quota system is you push hard at the wrong people. You don’t need it as more and more young people are getting interested in the sector. When we visit the high schools to recruit from there, we find that now almost half of the students understand the sector. Before, it would be around three students out of 60. The future success of Emiratis in our industry depends on [them] understanding our industry, and the employers understanding culturally what needs to done to fully integrate the Emiratis. The future’s highly encouraging.

ssahoo@thenational.ae

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Published: May 8, 2014 04:00 AM

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