Sometimes it’s difficult for people to commit to a four-year educational program if they’re uncertain about their career choice. At Vancouver Community College, there’s an option for anyone in this situation—they can take a two-year diploma in hospitality management.
If they’re feeling after two years that this is the industry for them, they then have the option of laddering that credential into the four-year bachelor of hospitality management.
Either way, there’s a plethora of jobs available for graduates because tourism continues to grow in Vancouver. According to Tourism Vancouver, the city has set records for tourist visits for four straight years.
VCC’s assistant department head of hospitality management, Monique Paassen, told the Straight that the diploma enables people to find entry-level and supervisory positions.
“Once you continue with a bachelor’s degree, you have made a decision that this is going to be your full-time career and your goal is management,” she said.
There’s also a bachelor of hospitality management (executive cohort) for people with seven years’ experience in the industry who are working in a managerial capacity.
It’s offered once a week on Tuesday evenings rather than the three days a week that students must commit to as part of the full-time bachelor of hospitality management program.
“It’s exactly the same as the daytime bachelor’s but it’s geared for industry people who have full-time jobs,” Paassen said. “It just takes longer for them to graduate.”
Students can enroll in VCC’s diploma in hospitality management every January and September, whereas the bachelor of hospitality management intake only takes place in September.
Both programs are offered at the downtown campus (250 West Pender Street), and students have the summer off so they can gain industry experience.
Paassen said students in the bachelor’s program take courses in operations management, multiculturalism in business, labour relations, service, marketing, entrepreneurship, and new media. They also do a research project over three semesters.
“Sometimes if they are already working in industry, we say, ‘Approach your supervisor or your manager and try to do a research paper that’s linked to your property or the business you work in,’ ” Paassen said.
That way, she added, the student’s major project can help benefit them on the job.
“One thing that really makes us stand out from other institutions that offer hospitality management is that there are only hospitality students in each course,” Paassen said.
VCC’s hospitality-management programs also host an “interview week” each February for industry employers to meet the students. According to Paassen, at least 90 percent of the students who go through these interviews end up finding jobs.
“Lots of different companies are contacting us saying, ‘Do you have any more students?’ They’re still screaming for people out there,” she said.
One of the advantages of a hospitality career is the opportunity to work in hotels in other parts of the world. Paassen has firsthand experience finding employment in different jurisdictions, having graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in international hospitality and tourism management in Switzerland.
“There are jobs and jobs and jobs,” she said. “You can go anywhere in this industry. Go to Dubai, if you like. There are a lot of properties there.”More