When this country was making strenuous efforts to industrialise under the leadership of Seán Lemass, considerable emphasis was placed on the role that the Shannon area could play, as was highlighted during John F Kennedy’s famous visit in 1963.
Shannon College of Hotel Management has been one of the great success stories over the intervening years. At its graduation ceremonies yesterday, the college was able to boast that all 62 of the students being conferred with their degrees have found employment. The college can be justifiably proud of this achievement.
In the past 60 years more than 2,000 students have graduated from the college and gone on to find employment at home and abroad.
Gerald Lawless, the executive chairman of the Dubai-based Jumeirah Group — which boasts of top hotels not only in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, but also in New York, London, Frankfurt, Rome, and Shanghai — was one of the guests at yesterday’s ceremonies. He graduated from the college before emigrating in the 1970s.
The potential of such links with this country should not be underestimated. In 2010, Mr Lawless personally signed a sponsorship deal on behalf of the Jumeirah Group with Rory McIlroy, whose recent golfing exploits have brought him to the top of the world rankings.
Irish success in one field of international endeavour inevitably has spin-offs in other fields, and we should be welcoming all the success we can in our current predicament. It is worth remembering that, in spite of recent setbacks, there are some real bright spots, especially in the area of IT and also in the agribusiness sector where companies such as Kerry Group, Glanbia, and Dairygold have been booming.
Many of the latest graduates of Shannon College of Hotel Management are going abroad, having secured jobs at some of the most prestigious international hotels. Top international groups have been coming to Shannon to recruit employees. They are probably doing this as a result of their experiences in hiring graduates in the past, or the reputation the college has earned.
Many of the graduates are probably availing of the opportunity to work abroad for a time, but it is important that this should be by choice, not out of necessity. Hopefully they can play a part in helping to develop Irish tourism markets.
In addition, 25 of the latest graduates, or more than 40% of yesterday’s graduating class, came from abroad. The college’s success story, therefore, highlights the country’s international growth potential in the area of education. That potential ought to be developed.
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