Background and Context
Rwanda Workforce Development Authority (WDA) is an institutional framework to provide a strategic response to the skills development challenges facing the country across all sectors of the economy.
The Tourism and Hospitality (H & T) Industry has been identified as a priority sector for Rwanda as it is expected to play a leading role in driving our economy forward. This sector has rapidly grown into a major foreign exchange earner for Rwanda, surppassing agriculture in the last two years. The H & T sector in its unique nature of a service sector, has seen increased international investment in the recent past. International hotel brands have made a stake in the Rwandan market. These include regional giants in hospitality such as: The Serena Hotels, the Marriot, Kempiski, and Mantis group to mention but a few. This sector enjoys a potential to create many jobs both directly and through other associated economic activites that it synergises with. Investment in its sustained growth or at least in the efficiency of operations within it can only spur more of the desired national growth.
Despite this remarkable growth of the industry, there is a big deficiency of the human resource need to match these needs. So far, little has been done in the training side to match training and therefore skills to the manpower needs. This mis-match between the growth of the industry and skills development has prompted the government of Rwanda through the Workforce Development Authority- WDA to devise appropriate means to bridge the gap and subsequently provide the skills needed to match the anticipated fast growth of the H & T industry.
According to the recent survey, Rwanda was ranked in East Africa as the country with the worst customer service. This is a very devastating result considering that the EAC protocal to market East Africa as one tourist destination has been passed. Therefore this calls for a competitive advantage of quality service since the products are almost the same in the region apart from the few exceptions like the mountain Gorillas.
On the other hand, the tourism and hospitality industry is a fast growing industry and second after coffee as a leading foreign currency earner for Rwanda with international booming investments in the sector. Despite this remarkable growth of the industry, there is not much in the training component to match the manpower needs. This gap between the growth of the industry and skills development calls for an immediate government intervention toward developing skills in order to match the industry growth.
In abid to address this challenge, WDA has taken a leading role as the the key institution responsible for implementing technical education and vocational training to implement short term training in service sectors. Hospitality industry goes hand in hand with good customer service and gives an impression that brands the nation as either hospitable or not... mainly because the services of the sector are accessed by visitors throughout the guest cycle than any other industry. It is important that service people have knowledge, technical skills and the right attitude required for effective and efficiency service delivery.
In the year 2009, WDA through its Hospitality Training Wing initiated a nation-wide outreach hospitality training campaign where over 1000 hotels and Restaurant workers have since then been trained in technical skills, underpinning knowledge as well as quality customer service. This venture started with hotels in Musanze and Rubavu (205 employees), Karongi and Rusizi (202 employees), Kigali city (350 employees) and late last year in Southern Province (135 employees). The scale of achievement of this drive by the WDA acquires better value if seen against the modest 90 supervisors and managers of Kigali city hotels who had been trained in customer care just before the above mentioned campaign kicked off.