Faculty and Student Perceptions of the Importance of Management Skills in the Hospitality Industry

Katherine A. Quinn, Nicole A. Buzzetto-Hollywood
Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning  •  Volume 15  •  2019  •  pp. 021-041

The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of faculty and student perceptions of the importance of resource, interpersonal, information, systems, and technology management competencies in the hospitality industry

The increasing complexity and technological dependency of the diverse hospitality and tourism sector raises the skill requirements needed, and expected, of new hires making education and competency development a strategic priority. Identifying the skills needed for hospitality graduates to succeed in a sector that is continuously being impacted by digitalization and globalization must be a continual process predicated on the desire to meet ever-changing industry needs. This study seeks to update and further explore an investigation started a decade ago that examined the skills and competencies valued by hiring managers in the hospitality industry.

The Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS), comprised of representatives from business, labor, education, and government, developed the framework, of workplace competencies and foundation skills used in this study. This research used a survey methodology for data collection and descriptive and inferential statistical methods during the analyses. The data for this study were collected from faculty, staff, hospitality industry stakeholders, and students of a Department of Hospitality & Tourism Management located at a small eastern Historically Black University (HBU). An electronic survey was sent to169 respondents and a total of 100 completed surveys were received for an overall return rate of 59%.

This study provides research on a population (first-generation minority college students) that is expanding in numbers in higher education and that the literature, reports as being under-prepared for academic success. This paper is timely and relevant and can be used to inform hospitality educators so that they can best meet the needs of their students and the companies looking to hire skilled graduates.

The findings of this study indicate there is inconsistent agreement among academicians and students regarding the importance of SCANS-specific competencies in hospitality graduates. At the same time, there is no argument that industry skills will be critical in the future of hospitality graduates. Overwhelmingly, participating students and faculty found all of the SCANS competencies important with the highest ranked competencies being interpersonal skills, which, given the importance of teamwork, customer service skills, leadership, and working with cultural diversity in the hospitality industry, was expected. Additionally, participating students indicated their strong agreement that internships are effective at building professional skills. Finally, the hospitality students included in this study who were enrolled in a skill-based curriculum were confident that their program is preparing them with the necessary skills and competencies that they will need for their future careers.

Higher education hospitality programs should be exploring the skills valued by industry, teaching faculty, and the students to see if they are being satisfied.

This research should be expanded to additional institutions across the United States as well as abroad. This particular research protocol is easily replicated and can be duplicated at both minority and majority serving institutions enabling greater comparisons across groups.

Several reports identify gaps in the 21st century skills required for the workplace and the effectiveness of higher education in preparing graduates for the workforce. This study helps to propel this discussion forward with relevant findings and a research methodology that is easily replicable.

A follow-up study of employers is currently being conducted.

SCANS, career readiness, workplace readiness, 21st century skills, hospitality education, first generation college students, technology readiness, HBCU, mi-nority learners, UMES, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, e-skills, lifelong learning
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