A NEW HOSPITALITY industry training organisation founded in Hong Kong to meet growing demand for skilled hotel staff is warning of rampant poaching of employees by Macau as its gaming industry expands. Kevin Michaels, a former veteran of Hilton Hotels and Hugh Hefner's Playboy empire founded the International Service Alliance (ISA). He predicts that Macau operations will soon start recruiting about 40,000 hospitality staff. 'There will be rampant poaching from Hong Kong,' he said. 'I know of one hotelier who has already lost nearly 200 of his 320 employees to Macau. It's going to be a big problem for the industry.' As a result, demand was growing by 'leaps and bounds' for the ISA's training programmes, he said, adding that meeting demand for skilled hotel workers would be a huge job. The ISA anticipates training tens of thousands of 'five-star service ambassadors' for both Hong Kong and the region's hospitality and tourism industries in the next few years. Backed by a team of internationally renowned hoteliers and service professionals experienced in the Asian market, the alliance's niche is training both new recruits and polishing the skills of existing frontline staff. Training is done in-house, rather than at a dedicated school, and ranges from food and beverage, bartending, housekeeping and front desk skills to guest services, tour guiding and retail sales. Also included are skills such as hygiene and grooming, poise, etiquette, problem solving, interview preparation, guest relations, job-specific language and personal development. 'The ISA is setting the standard for international service skill training for the industry and the region in the years to come,' Mr Michaels said. 'ISA graduates will be the most skilled and sought after service professionals in Asia.' According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, jobs in hotels and tourism alone are projected to number more than 326,000 in Hong Kong by 2010, and more than 68.7 million in China. The mainland is projected to be the most visited country in the world, with Hong Kong fifth. 'China has more than enough people to fill the jobs that will be created, but it has a severe shortage of qualified people to fill the vacancies,' Mr Michaels said. Having identified the shortfall in qualified human capital, 'ISA's training is geared both to address and solve this problem', he said. Its professional service training programme is based on a model developed by the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council.