Yuji Hashisaka always dreamed of owning an amusement arcade.
He worked in one part-time when he was studying economics at university and later spent 18 months as a salesman in the industry. But when the industry took a downturn in Japan he decided to use his customer service experience in a different way.
"I love talking to different people and meeting foreigners so I decided I wanted to work in the hospitality industry and in particular a five star hotel," says the friendly 25 year old from Osaka.
Now, thanks to a stint studying hospitality in New Zealand, Yuji is sitting pretty, having landed a job as an In Room Dining Server at the brand-new Ritz-Carlton in Tokyo.
"This really is a dream come true for me. It's a fantastic opportunity."
Not surprisingly, competition for jobs at the up-market five-star establishment was fierce, but Yuji's New Zealand qualifications and experience Down Under clearly paid off.
He arrived in Auckland in 2005 and completed the three-month NZMA English for Hospitality (EFH) programme at FERN English Academy. The NZQA-approved and accredited programme provides learners with foundation English language skills specific to the hospitality industry. It also provides a pathway to further hospitality studies at NZMA. Students who successfully complete English for Hospitality are automatically accepted onto NZMA's hospitality certificate and diploma programmes.
After successful completion of EFH, Yuji headed to NZMA's Auckland Central Academy where he spent six months working towards his NZMA Certificate in Hospitality and Employment Skills Level 3. This course delves into specialised knowledge of hospitality skills and beverage operations and covers a range of topics such as customer service, making specialty coffees and cocktails and associated liquor legislation.
"My Japanese agent said if I wanted to study hospitality, New Zealand was the best place to go and she also told me about NZMA and FERN. I really enjoyed my studies there. I learned so many things on my EFH course that helped me in my certificate course and so much in my certificate course that will now help me in my new job!"
Yuji has just returned to Japan and takes up his new position later this month. He hopes to work his way up in the Ritz-Carlton group and has his sights set on eventually getting into a managerial role there.
Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city, with 1.3 million people.