Portfolio of Kimberly Johans

A collection of articles created during my stint as a journalist at The Macau Daily Times

Macau to educate Singaporean students on running casinos

Posted by Kimberly on June 20, 2007

By Kimberly Johans
Published in The Macau Daily Times
July 20
2007, page 2 (959 words)

A memorandum of understanding was signed yesterday between the Arium School or Arts and Sciences Singapore and the Macau Millennium College.
The Macau college will cooperate with Arium to provide diploma programs in the area of hospitality management to Singapore students, particularly with respect to practical experience.
With Singapore looking to open their first two ‘integrated resorts’ in 2009, Miss Maria Lee, CEO of Arium said, “we felt that our students would benefit a lot if they could get some practical experience in Macau because this is the only place in Asia that has the most experience in casinos and gambling and our type of integrated resorts management.”
As this is the only gambling mecca beyond Las Vegas, it seemed a natural conclusion for the school to focus its students’ education within Asia.
“Our students will be coming here to learn on a practical-basis for about 6 months, to serve internships and some training that will be provided in Macau,” said Miss Lee.
She added that the expertise provided by the institution’s involvement with American standards, meant the students would get this expertise “in terms of service in industries” as well as the “Asian flavour of the practical aspects.”
“So that would give our students extremely good exposure.
“And after they finish their internship next year when our own casinos are open in 2009, they can come back and bring that experience that they have over,” she said.
According to Miss Lee, no other school in Singapore has done such an exchange program “so we’re a bit proud that we’re the first to actually do it,” she said.
She added that most of the schools working on hospitality programs in Singapore tended to deal with Australian or UK counterparts, “because Singapore is very British, just like in Hong Kong.”
The college prides itself on its “American type of hospitality program” as it will coincide with the two integrated resorts; Sands and Genting/Universal, all American companies.
“So we hope that the experience of our students will be greatly enhanced with this three-way type of education; America, Singapore and Macau,” she said.
Professor Fok Kai Cheong, of the Macau Millennium College said that Arium were not the only Singaporean institution to approach them.
“There are many many delegations from all types of Singaporean government institutions that have paid a visit for us.
There are many other institutions that we are going to have a program with,” he said.
But the college is determined not to overstretch themselves.
“We want to maintain a quality education.
“If you overdevelop, you cannot have quality control,” he said.
He added that the College was always on the look-out for institutions like Arium, “because we share a lot in common such as top quality education and wanting to elevate the professionalism of many Singaporean employees.”
The course will be conducted over eight months, with “two months of theory in Singapore and…six months of both theory and practical [here in Macau],” said Miss Lee.
According to Miss Lee, there are still a few issues to be dealt with, particularly in terms of the costs of the program.
As well, “we have to talk about the faculties involved in the teaching. One of the things that we have been discussing is the language barrier.
“Our professors all teach in English and the materials are in English, whereas the faculties here have materials in Mandarin and the teaching is in Mandarin or Cantonese,” she said.
Negotiations for the agreement began in earnest around March this year “so the progress has been pretty fast,” said Miss Lee.
Asked whether she was concerned with the potential danger of her students wishing to stay on in Macau and seek work here after the completion of their program, she said, “that would be great for our students. We hope that their future here will be successful.
“As long as they can find job opportunities, we’ll be happy for them.
“We don’t require that they have to go back [to Singapore],” she said.
Her main concern though was the workforce competition for manpower.
With Singapore opening in 2009 and Malaysia soon to follow, “I think students who take up a hospitality program are going to have a lot of job opportunities opening up for them in this region,” she said.
She added that Singapore needs to “have a certain level of expertise, which right now, we don’t. We’ve never had casinos before.”
It was one of the reasons why the cooperation between the two schools was so attractive to her.
“Because now we’ve found a place where students don’t just go to class and learn the theories they could actually come and learnt he practical aspects and actually get to do it,” she said.
There is much that needs to be done publicly, according to Miss Lee “because of some of the issues we have to work on.
“We’re trying to work it out so that first batch [of students] will come probably in October this year,” she said.
The program will initially seek to take on about 40-50 students.
“As Professor Fok keeps telling us, we need to control the quality so let’s start small and then expand further,” she said.
The cost of the program still needs to be confirmed, with several factors to consider, including “what are the accommodation options here, what are the costs of the packages, can some of the costs of the internship be covered.
“These are the details that we need to work out with the Macau college but we’re trying to make the cost as affordable for the students,” said Miss Lee.
Futher details about the program and it’s commencement will be made available by Macau Millennium College over the course of the next two months.

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