Educational Innovation: Apprenticeship Model (Practical Application & Internships)-Vatel Hospitality & Tourism Business School


Education_BH: Innovation and Excellence celebrates the remarkable innovations implemented in Bahrain’s schools and universities. We learned about these innovations, the process, the challenges, and the lessons learned from some of the leading educational institutions in the Kingdom. Read more in our latest issue.

A model that facilitates students with practical experience and encourages local as well as international internship placements, developing various essential professional and real-world skills.

Practical Application is a weekly practice done every other week during the theoretical semester (October–April). In the theoretical semester, students attend one week on campus and the other as practical practice in the hotels in all the operational functions in the first 2 years (Front desk, F&B, Housekeeping and the Kitchen); and in the back office in the last 2 years (Marketing, HR, Finance, etc.).

During the first 2 years, students are mandated to do their internships in Bahrain (May–September), which are conducted for 18–22 weeks. During the 3rd year, Internships are done in France due to the teaching of the French language in the curriculum of the Bachelor of International Hotel Management and the great experience gained by doing an internship in France, which includes learning about the culture and a different way of working. In the final year, students are tasked with looking for an international internship placement themselves as part of their employability skills development.

How was the innovation planned?

Vatel Bahrain updated its bachelor’s programme to be further aligned with the French programme offered on the main campus.

Nevertheless, in France, most of the campuses have their own Vatel outlets that function as practical learning platforms, namely Vatel Hotel, Vatel Restaurant, Vatel Café, and Vatel Gourmet. These have yet to open their doors in Bahrain.

Vatel Bahrain has planned and organised the placement of all of its students by developing its network of partnerships locally and internationally, which has provided a stronger base for its students to have multicultural experiences.

What were the challenges faced during implementation?

Challenges faced included budget constraints affecting a few students’ international internships and COVID-19-related travel restrictions. To avoid study plan delays, all students were locally placed amidst the pandemic.

Give us a brief assessment of your results:

The graduate destination and stakeholder (partner) satisfaction serve as two major assessment measures. 50% of our graduates secure jobs before graduating, and 78% are employed within 6 months, reflecting positive indicators. Additionally, employer feedback stands as a testament to the success of this model.

In hindsight, what were the most valuable lessons learned while implementing the innovation? Could things have been done differently?

The most valuable lesson learnt revolved around clear problem identification. Expectations from students and partners were misaligned. What was discovered after a series of conflicts and complaints from students and partners was that expectations were different for both parties. To rectify that, Vatel focused on enhanced communication with partners and held feedback sessions with our students before and after the internships.

Another lesson involved adopting agile and iterative development. Embracing this process allows for flexibility and adaptability. The practical application and Internship manager conducts a risk assessment of the internship and practical application placement, in which there are alternatives for each student. This is also working well after receiving students’ recommendations for certain properties.

Additionally, a culture of continuous learning and assessment emerged as a critical factor for successful innovation. Encouraging students and partners to explore new ideas, learn from failures, and embrace a growth mindset can drive innovation forward. Throughout the practical application and Internships, students and partners are being evaluated for further improvements in the experience and the process.

While these lessons provide valuable insights, it’s important to remember that every innovation project is unique, and the lessons learned may vary based on the specific context. Reflecting on these lessons and applying them to future projects can enhance the chances of successful innovation implementation.

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