Core Attributes of a True Knowledge Hub

Core Attributes of a True Knowledge Hub 09 Jul 2019

Generally, education institutes seek Industry support in the pursuit of enhancing their infrastructure and hence create a superior learning environment. This is indeed an ideal situation and must be encouraged. 

However, a quality institute, which meets global standards of knowledge transfer must meet certain global guidelines before it can call itself an Institute of Excellence. 

Once an Institute acquires the requisite capabilities and has met the global standards of excellence, it becomes 'A knowledge Hub' in true sense. It is this KNOWLEDGE that can be made available to support industry needs. 

Any professions' growth is directly linked to its capacity to create CENTRES of EXCELLENCE in EDUCATION. Quality education does not mean to attract more students and make it a profitable business. It means creating a culture of commitment to higher learning, research to remain contemporary and establish a correlation to achieve higher student satisfaction and meet the growing demands of the industry. 

A culinary institute is no different from any other educational Institute. 

Let's have a look at what are the key competencies that a culinary institute must have, to become a support to the industry. 

At the recently concluded WORLD CHEF CONGRESS- 2018, organised by World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS) in Kuala Lumpur, where I had the honour of making a presentation on a similar subject to a gathering of over 1000 chefs from all over the world. 

Chef Michael Baskette, Director, WACS Education committee, identified key competencies expected from a culinary institute to receive the prestigious WACS approval of an Accredited Institute that meets global standards and receive the seal of Recognition of Quality Culinary Education. 

The key competencies for a knowledge hub are: 

1) CHIEF MENTOR: (The Institute bead) should be knowledgeable with considerable professional experience in Culinary Art and recognised by the industry for his/ her contributions to the growth and development of the culinary profession.

2) INFRASTRUCTURE: The institute must be equipped with state-of-the-art learning facilities, including Lab Kitchens, latest in technology. 

3) FACULTY: Sufficient Qualified and experienced human resource which has acquired sufficient work experience in diverse locations and specialty cuisines. 

4) RESEARCH ORIENTATION: There should be an environment of research in the Institute so that students are made aware of the latest in trends and technology being introduced in the food industry.

5) INDUSTRY RECOGNITION: An education Institute is only as good as Industry perceives it and not another way around. It is therefore important that the institute has a constant interface with the Industry and the students as well as faculty participates enthusiastically in Industry lead activities. 

6) ACCOLADES: The Mentor, Faculty and students must endeavour to achieve industry accolades by sharing knowledge and participating in forums where industry presence is envisaged. 

7) STUDENT POWER: Biggest asset of any institute is its student power that is professionally trained and equipped with a positive attitude to be available for assignments with the industry, 

8) INTERNATIONAL REACH: A culinary Institute must associate itself with internationally recognised accreditation bodies so as to ensure implementation of global teaching and learning standards., knowledge sharing and product development. 

Any culinary Institute that has access to aforementioned capabilities can be categorised as KNOWLEDGE HUB and ready to offer its support services to the industry. Not all hotels are chain hotels, not all Food serving industries are actually in food business 

(Industrial houses/ Boarding Schools, etc.) and hence do not have the requisite know-how of FOOD MANAGEMENT. 
Any industry or an individual aspiring to enter or promote food products can, with full confidence walk into a culinary Institute and seek technical support in research and development of their products. 

The role of the mentor is creating a culture of Industry support by motivating its faculty and students to accept such assignments with full confidence and without hesitation. 

Such industry support not only generates extra revenues but also brings the Institute closer to the industry and is able to showcase its faculty and students' professional capabilities and also the strength of its infrastructure to meet the discerning demands of its customers. 

All additional revenue generation can then be utilised for further improvement of an institute's infrastructure, retention of quality faculty and hence superior knowledge transfer to its students. 

IICA in that sense has evolved into a Knowledge Hub for the Food Industry in the country which in addition to imparting culinary education to its own students, consistently offer considerable support in the form of training to Chefs from Defence forces, consultancy services including menu planning, etc., for hostels, corporate cafeterias, etc. The institute was recently involved in research and development of Indian curries for introduction in Japanese market for a Gourmet Tourism Group.

By Virender S Datta, Chairman, International Institute of Culinary Arts (lICA).

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