Preparing Students for Industry & Focusing on Employability
One of the key elements of this debate is that of employability for students leaving academia and entering the industry.
Employability is an important measure of success for higher education providers, as echoed by Quacquarelli Symonds who state that: “Ensuring that students are well-equipped for post graduate work, in their chosen faculty, is a key aspect of higher education”. The quality of graduates entering the workforce acts as a barometer for employers when judging where to find the best talent – this can build positive market positions for particular higher education institutes, with employers feeling they acquire quality graduates from that school.
Over the next ten years, the hospitality sector is set to see the competition for employment intensify. In October 2019, Sean O’Neill commented in a Skift report that “employment growth for the hospitality sector will be cut by roughly half over the next decade, due to government forecasts”. He goes on to say that “hoteliers will look to boost the productivity of their workforce through training”.
How do we address this and how do students ensure they acquire the skills and competitive advantage they require to secure jobs within the sector?
The optimal place to begin is by reviewing the industry to benchmark their processes and how they develop their employees and bring this into the classroom. Many of the world’s leading hotel companies have a clear focus on training and development, which is delivered in a variety of ways including certifications and simulation courses.
These are areas Russell Partnership Technology have significant experience with. For example, the Certification in Hotel Industry Analytics (CHIA) delivered in partnership between STR and AHLEI – this program seamlessly bridges the gap between industry and education, preparing students for the reality of working life. The Hospitality Business Acumen program developed and delivered by Russell Partnership Technology focusses on different areas to the CHIA and is another initiative that can be brought into the classroom to enhance learning and development.
Simulation courses are utilised widely by the industry to train and develop personnel. These courses place participants into the position of managing virtual hotels in a simulated environment, so that key learning and development criteria can be addressed. This is an effective approach for preparing students for industry and enables students to implement strategic decisions and simulate the role of a General Manager. Simulations have been well researched within academia and are firmly embedded into the curriculum at many of the world’s leading hotel schools.
As the landscape of graduate employability changes, hospitality curriculum developments are inevitable.