Let’s decide for the future, not vice-versa | Clayton Bartolo

We need to improve, do more, and keep our eyes on the ball. Above all we need the visitors in the airport departure lounge leaving with bigger, more satisfied smiles than the ones they had when they landed

Until quite recently, learning and education were rooted in and completely conditioned by a long-standing way of approaching knowledge. To learn, to be educated, was a matter of absorbing information which you did not know before. Knowledge was something you acquired as if it were a ‘thing’. And what you were supposed to do was to keep using and reusing that ‘thing’ for the rest of your life.

Today’s world no longer functions that way – it requires us to look at knowledge in a fundamentally different way. Knowledge is now all about learning how to learn. Technological, social and economic change is so furiously rapid that the information and schooling acquired yesterday might already be obsolete or irrelevant today. Consequently, the only future proof road to stick to is to learn how to keep learning. Knowledge today is a process, not a ‘thing’.

With this thought as our guide a few days ago we inaugurated the ITS Training School, a business unit in the Institute of Tourism Studies. We are proud and keen to be embarking on a journey to provide high-quality, innovative training programs that upskill the tourism workforce and enhance the quality-of-service provision in the industry. The scope is to tackle short- and medium-term skill gaps in both the local and international hospitality and tourism industry.

More specifically, and always mindful of knowledge as process, we are offering both off-the-shelf training programs as well training that can be customised and retooled to meet the specific needs of operators in the sector. Standard and bespoke courses will be given in hotel management, food and beverage, travel and tourism, events, sports, wellness and leisure, amongst others.

Crucially, to make it easier for employees who are already on the ground in the sector, we have ensured that the scheduling of the classes and workshops achieves the best fit with their working hours, learning curves and ambitions. We are even committed to conduct instruction both at ITS as well as directly at our trainees’ workplaces.

All the courses on offer are structured to impart hands-on and self-renewable skills to put the client, the patron, the visitor, the tourist at the centre of the service to be delivered. The underlying instructional driver, our ultimate ambition, is that in this industry exceeding client their expectations should be the norm, not the exception. It is the only way that we as a country can compete successfully in the global market. In this sense, it gives me great comfort that the leaders of these courses are experienced, knowledgeable, and qualified instructors specialised in a range of disciplines.

Whether it's enhancing skills in hospitality, improving customer service, or gaining industry-specific knowledge, our training programs are designed to help individuals and organizations achieve their objectives and by extension the national ones.

The decision to launch the ITS Training School has a context. Despite our successes in the tourism industry over the years, particularly the speed and volume of our post-pandemic recovery, when we look at the future competition is going to be tougher than ever.

In other words, quite candidly, we need to improve, do more, and keep our eyes on the ball. Above all we need the visitors in the airport departure lounge leaving with bigger, more satisfied smiles than the ones they had when they landed. To do so, no one can make more of a difference, indeed make the difference, than the frontliners of Malta’s tourism industry.

The setting up of this training school sends a strong message about the government’s firm commitment to offer a quality and sustainable tourism product and story. Our story.

If we genuinely believe that we can beat seasonality for good we need to offer more consistent and diverse products and services which fit visitors’ preferences, desires and itineraries. Attracting quality tourism requires us, all of us, to do our part together. This training school is yet another window of opportunity for us to elevate Malta’s hospitality profile in the global tourism industry.

It’s crunch time. We need to decide for the future. Unless we do, it will decide for us. And by then it might be too late.