Image Credit: Saskatchewan Polytechnic
Image Credit: Saskatchewan Polytechnic

Making successful careers possible

Next fall, when 16 students from India step off their plane in Saskatoon, they'll see a familiar face waiting for them. That familiar face will be Michael van Grondelle, the head of Sask Polytech's Hotel and Restaurant Management program. With the support of his fellow instructors and Sask Polytech International Education, he's brought the program to the city of Chandigarh where classes kicked off this September.

Van Grondelle has travelled to the city in northern India twice already, and plans to return twice each school year to get to know the students and the instructors to ensure the program is mirroring what's being taught to the students at our Saskatoon campus.

"I want to go over and meet them so they have a face to a name—so when they get off the plane they're not thinking, ‘What am I doing here?' They'll have someone that they know," says van Grondelle. "After being in India, I know that there's a huge cultural difference."

Cushioning some of the culture shock is a priority for van Grondelle. He recently prepared a presentation for the students in India, highlighting the hotels and restaurants Sask Polytech partners with for their work placements. "Now, they've had a chance to see that before they get here, and they're going to have a better understanding of the culture before they arrive," he says. "The fact that we're using all our materials in India for the first year, when they get here there's already a familiarity with what we teach."

Equipping the students with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed is a win-win for students and employers, says van Grondelle. "Right now our industry is short on people," he says. "In the last couple of years we've opened up at least 45 new hotels in the province. It's huge." He adds that the proliferation of new restaurant openings in Saskatoon alone translates to a strong demand for managers, supervisors and servers.

Upon graduation in Canada, the students from India may qualify to seek permanent residence in Saskatchewan under the Saskatchewan Immigration Nomination Program (SINP). Their much-needed skills will help grow local businesses, and in turn, fuel our economy.

Employers are telling van Grondelle they're thrilled to see the school bringing in new people armed with the practical skills to succeed in their jobs from day one. "Employers are happy, in terms of our strategy, because there's a shortage of trained personnel."  He adds that the program "gives students a huge leg up on getting promoted and getting ahead in the industry. They're walking in with so much knowledge that they didn't have before."

Whether the students decide to stay in Canada, or pursue opportunities elsewhere, a world of possibility will be awaiting them.

This is the first instalment of a four-part series highlighting Saskatchewan Polytechnic employees who are demonstrating excellence in delivering on one of our four strategic themes: 1. Making successful careers possible, 2. Advancing economic and social prosperity, 3. Pursuing excellence in program quality and innovation, and 4. Leading organizational effectiveness.

Van Grondelle is one of many employees helping make successful careers possible. Saskatchewan Polytechnic is in the business of helping its clients—students and employers—be successful. Its flexible, lifelong learning opportunities allow students and graduates to take charge of their careers and support continuing skills development. Sask Polytech anticipates and responds strategically to employers' programming needs.