Hospitality education institutions, as a part of a typical curriculum, offer housekeeping as a core subject and this must be compulsorily studied and an examination passed for the award of a diploma or a degree. But, at the end of the programme when the students have to make a choice of a career, housekeeping never features on the priority list or, in very rare cases, it is the last option.
The primary reason for this lies in the way the subject is handled in most hospitality educational institutions. Secondly, the inherent attitude that is conditioned into the children, that cleaning would be the punishment for any misbehaviours or failures also acts as a detriment.
There are institutions that would make a student do housekeeping or cleaning in particular for not being punctual, improper grooming, shortage of attendance, delay in submission of assignments and/or failure to comply with the rules and regulations.
Such an attitude towards housekeeping also spills over when students opt for positions in the housekeeping department. In fact, the first lecture to an intern or a trainee who has newly joined the department would start like “This is a thankless job and not very rewarding”. With housekeeping as the last option and a not-so-exciting welcome, students look at their housekeeping jobs as monotonous, non-motivating and unrewarding. Therefore, the challenge to make housekeeping the choice of careers is by:
- Bringing innovation into teaching the subject and improving the already existing pedagogy.
- Look beyond the act of cleaning and inculcate management concepts into day-to-day operations. This could result in measurable progress that could in turn motivate students.
- Use housekeeping to recognise achievements rather than for punishment.
- Department heads should instil a sense of “dignity of labour” by walking the talk which is happening of late.
- Lastly, it is important that the students are shown a career growth path that would be rewarding monetarily as well as position-wise for the efforts.
Today, housekeeping as a profession is not confined to a position in the high star hotels. New avenues like corporate offices, retail stores, shopping malls, airports, cruise liners, IT and ITES sectors have a plethora of interesting positions in housekeeping with rewarding careers and excellent remuneration packages.
With huge infrastructures being contemplated in the near future in a variety of sectors, many job openings in the housekeeping area are likely to flood the markets. The right attitude and a little self motivation could take the future housekeeping professionals to new realms in their careers.Jaisree Anand
Dean – School of Hospitality Studies,
National Institute of Tourism and