May 30, 2022

Capitalising on the Resurgence in Rajasthan’s Hospitality Sector

 Vikram Chouhan, Principal at SEDI Udaipur, has a problem on his hands. Hotels across the state have been calling him to fill 500 new jobs in the hospitality sector, and he simply doesn’t have enough trainees to fill the jobs!  Such is the ‘bounce back’ that the hospitality industry is going through post pandemic, with the market for corporate, wedding and leisure travel surging after an industry collapse in 2020 and 2021.  And such is the reputation of SEDI’s graduates, who have higher retention rates and better industry skills than most other hotel management trainees.  It’s a good problem to have.


Shedding light on his journey in establishing a new SEDI in Debari, Udaipur (the heart of Rajasthan’s tourism sector) as part of ACF’s partnership with Hindustan Zinc Limited, Vikram Chouhan talks candidly with Thrive, on the challenges he faced as the country was in the grips of the second wave of the pandemic.


“We initially starting, by identifying the right infrastructure, keeping in mind the nearby villages for the convenience of youth, the team pivoted into mobilization for project awareness in villages.” Vikram said. “Mobilization started with door to door visits, PRI meetings, social media and meetings with Sarpanchs, Anganwadis and the community at night. Meanwhile we started counselling and enrolling candidates for the first new batch.” Vikram said.


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“With a lot of deep-rooted issues among a largely uneducated population we had to go the extra mile to get the rural community out of their orthodox thinking.” Vikram explains.  “We decided to start with the ‘low hanging fruit’ of Micro Finance and Customer Relationship Management courses, where the demand among youth was already high for these courses.”


With 4 BPO’s in Udaipur itself, and strong awareness of ‘call centre jobs’ among the village youth, the CRM course took off.  Similarly, the large demand within the banking sector for candidates in Micro Finance, and knowledge of SHGs and small loans, the course for Micro Finance was also up and running.


So how did he and his team convince youth to join the hospitality course?


“The major challenge was to create awareness about opportunities in the Hotel industry among the rural community – in their minds, when you talk of a career in hospitality, they envision a life of being a ‘roadside food vendor or someone who washes vessels in restaurants” Vikram chuckles.  “There was a lot of work to be done to create awareness and change these deep rooted perceptions.”


Being from the hospitality background himself, Vikram and his team started convincing youth about growth opportunities in Hotel industry – after all, Rajasthan is ‘the jewel in the crown’ of India’s hospitality and tourism industry, renowned for its stunning palaces, royalty, colourful local tribes, stark deserts, colourful cities and the wilds of Ranthambore.  Here, job opportunities abound in the tourism sector which, pre-pandemic had reached an all-time high of 50 million visitors per year.


Whilst the pandemic crippled the hospitality sector globally, there is still great scope for the sector, which is one of the world’s fastest growing industries, and a key contributor to employment generation and growth in many countries – India included.  And the industry vacancies across the country highlights this resurgence. 

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How did they keep the placement partners happy?


“Hotels are offering lucrative starting salaries of Rs11,500 plus food and accommodation to new joinees – it’s an attractive offer for our rural youth, and opens their eyes to what is possible within this growing sector.”


“It is for this reason, that we are fiercely committed to pursuing excellence in Hospitality (Food & Beverages and Housekeeping), whilst capitalising on the current demands in the market for CRM and Micro Finance.” Vikram said.


“And to fill the gaps of the placement partner needs, I reached out to all the SEDI centres in our Rajasthan region and also a few close to the state who had aspiring trainees interested to secure a job in the hospitality industry.”


“Of course, in this contemporary world where cut throat competition has become a part and parcel of life, it is of supreme importance that SEDI students are nurtured to develop extraordinary skills and be competent enough to stand tall amongst others - come out victorious to capitalise on the vast opportunities that the state of Rajasthan has to offer.” He said.


“In the words of Swami Vivekananda, we encourage our trainees to ‘Arise! Awake! And stop not till the road is reached’” Vikram said.


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May 30, 2022

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