Education is one of the most effective tools in eradicating poverty and improving what we don’t know. For any national or social environment to progress, investing heavily in education is a must. It is only after investing in education that an individual will be able to grow to think and decide for himself.
However, even after a basic education is gained, students still need vocational training or specialized education to equip them with relevant skills in the field of their choice or passion. Vocational training has gained worldwide recognition which is leading to a massive interest in establishing dedicated centers around the globe.
Starting a vocational school can appear as a long process however, not necessarily a difficult one if all is well-prepared.
Vocational training enables people to build competence in services allowing them to deliver professional and subsequently industrial-grade performance. This training has gained fame around the world leading to the widespread establishment of vocational training centers. Before jumping into the admissions criteria and possible schooling options, it is important to put down the mission and vision of the school and review its competitive landscape.
The objectives of the learning center should be to work towards the student’s achievement and growth, as a professional and as an individual. This should allow the school to develop its criteria and evolve into an institution of credible and verified reputation. The most important thing to do is to take the time and come up with a comprehensive list of objectives and specializations of the vocational training center before making the commitment toward a set of criteria.
1. Demand analysis and industry requirements
First, it is important to understand the need of skilled and trained manpower required by the local industry and the rate at which the local hospitality and related industry is growing. An understanding of the attributed factors in the industry and the pressure it is creating on the demand and supply cycle and its analysis will give a fair understanding of the need to train people for the entry and supervisory level workforce for the region and country.
Long-term projections of the number of people that need to be trained and creation of a feasible and sustainable concept that fits with local and regional needs will determine if a vocational training center can successfully enter a market and generate expected profits to expand the business operations in a targeted market.
2. Assessment of requirements
Once the demand and industry analysis is complete, an assessment of requirements needs to be done in terms of facility, location, and staff.
The location in terms of the city and its connection with the industry is of prime importance. Centers can be located either in the source markets where the people migrate to work for the industry or in industry clusters where there is a sizable presence of the industry in multiple formats.
Once the City location is finalized, one needs to close the location of the proposed center in the City. It should be conveniently located so that the prospective students can travel and reach with the least difficulty. Sometimes proximity to the industry cluster can be extremely beneficial as it will generate natural connection to the industry for the prospective students.
3. Capacity Analysis and the size of the Center
How big and elaborate the size of a Center will depend on the number of students that can be mobilized over a period of 5-years. It will also depend on the types and number of Vocational courses that can be offered in relation to the industry requirement and interests of the community that will use the center.
The source market may be spread around the location, but one needs to map the mobilization capability with the local transportation facilities. Sometimes a residential program can be of immense value when the spread of the source market is more widespread. The center can also plan to increase the size as and when the demand is expected to increase so that ideal deployment of funds is achieved. This will also satisfy the funding agencies, in case they are involved.
4. Funding and Financial Implications
Every owner needs to understand the source and cost of funds in order to calculate the ROI of the learning center. It is essential to relate the ROI to the projected demand and the ability of the prospective students to pay the fees. Vocational programs may also be able to attract cheaper funds or even grants from the local government agencies who would be keen to skill their population and make them employable.
Once there is an understanding of the Capital required to fully equip the center and to cover the initial working capital, the owners need to align it to the cost of available funds and create a sustainable business model. It will also depend if the property is owned or rented as the capital expense requirements will change dramatically whether the property is leased or rented. It's always highly recommended to work on the financial projections before deciding to start a learning center.
5. Marketing Services
Marketing is an essential part in the daily operations of a Training Center and will include a proper plan of action to successfully run the training center. Marketing activities include:
recruitment marketing best-practice training,
creation of ready-to-launch school website & lead generation platform,
marketing audit and recruitment acceleration,
marketing collateral design, etc.
Vocational Centers may need to have their own team in order to mobilize the prospective students, counsel and help them take the decision to apply. This is a year-long process as it helps create a sizable pipeline of students for multiple entry cycles in the center. One must remember that it takes some time before the center becomes strong on self-generating leads for the admission. Until leads are self-generating, every possible effort should be made to strengthen the pipeline. Vocational Centers should also demonstrate their connection with the industry to their prospective students so that students understand the strong need for a trained workforce in the hospitality industry.
Any association made with local industries will be considered as a competitive advantage.
6. Human Resources
The success of a Training Center is in large part defined by the faculty who conduct the theory and practical classes. Qualifications and credentials of the manpower are extremely important to the successful running of the center thus some activities become crucial such as:
creation of job posts,
recruitment & interviews,
Provision of organizational chart,
guidance on appraisals,
Design of an organizational structure.
Most branded and high-quality Vocational and Education Training programs require trainers to be well-trained and be subject-matter experts. They should be able to meet the minimum required criteria set by the governmental agencies or institutional partner in order to get their certification.
Having relevant industry experience and connection with the local industry will be valuable.
In parallel, designing the facilities and labs as well as working on the list of equipment are important requirements. Once the designs are finalized and compliant with governmental regulations or institutional partner standards, one must use all available resources to buy them at best possible rate and in a most efficient time. The learning center may require the services of a consultant to make sure their training kitchen lab complies with local regulatory knowledge.
8. Placements of the students/Student Services
The Final responsibility of the training center is the placement of the students for the In-service training and subsequently in a job post completion of their course. Some government funding access becomes easy when there is an assurance from the industry for post certification placements either through a signed Letter of Intents (LOI) or even through a simple letter of acknowledgement.
During the upcoming admissions season, a center can demonstrate its connection with the industry displaying its LOI (Letter of Intents) and other acknowledgements. This will ensure the creation of an atmosphere of trust for the students as well as their parents.
Most institutes would have separate Admissions and Placements departments to facilitate a common linkage in both the processes. It also very strongly establishes the intent of providing jobs linked with the training and certification. Sometimes the presence of industry representatives in the center during the ongoing admissions and counselling sessions can be great value for the students.
9. Operationalizing of the Center
A Center needs to have completed all the activities before announcing the opening dates for the Center. Finalizing the checklist for opening will imply that all facilities, classrooms and labs are in place together with the recruitment of human resources. Most Institutional partners will insist on completing the faculty recruitment process as well as its training before opening the Center.
An opening ceremony of the Vocational School will be scheduled. The external and internal branding of the center will require proper attention. Conducting the opening after the initial admissions process will allow to show the presence of students on campus. The inauguration of the Center itself provides an opportunity to showcase the facility to the industry as well as the local public.
10. Maintaining the quality of Industry standards
It is strongly recommended for a training center to operate a student service center. This service center should be able to support with students on topics such as:
On the Job Training,
Adapting to the LMS- New way of learning (Blended learning),
Basic IT inquiries (Connection to school network, etc.),
In case of international students: support with local authority requirements.
To maintain the industry standards and to stay relevant in the dynamic world a training center needs to conduct:
retrain its faculty,
keep the center self-sustainable.
Partnering with a vocational education expert
Why having a partner is cost saving?
Energy and time are ones of the biggest costs for businesses, and failing to find the right plan to meet the needs of your business can prove to be a costly mistake. Partnering with a comprehensive education supplier can help the learning center to find ways to reduce its costs and manage better its resources.
The right partner can support the learning center with:
The recruitment of staff and faculty and creation of a sustainable supply of students, marketing activities etc. It is recommended that owners engage with some institutional bodies that will guide them in creating a robust model for their project.
The project analysis before getting involved in the implementation. Professional Advisory services can add a great value to carry various financial analysis, to generate a feasible model for the project and can also be a strong sounding board for the owners in making quick and sound financial decisions.
The development of the curriculum and teaching materials/methods, ensuring it is up to date and applicable to current practices.
A good business plan that will help in getting the funding as well as help determine facilities, staffing, staff training, marketing, enrollment benchmarks (and how you’ll meet them), operational procedures, safety, growth and improvement plans…
The instructional diagnosis, grading student performance, certification of student competence for employers and various other policy purposes at the state and local levels.