Analysing and forecasting qualified labour demand in the South African hotel accommodation sector
Makumbirofa, Sandra Danai
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There is no doubt that South Africa is increasingly becoming a popular tourist destination, with this popularity comes the need and demand for skilled human capital. The study of skills development and human capital in all sectors of the economy has long been topical as a means to support organisational progression that can eventually lead to economic growth. Estimates suggest that the tourism and hospitality industry employs at least 10 per cent of the global workforce and 4.5% of South Africa’s workforce, and consequently proves to be a sector that cannot be readily ignored. Included in most of the literature on skills development in the tourism and hospitality sector is the notion of inadequate human skills and capacity. However, due to the complex and consumption-based nature of the tourism sector, and the general scarcity of sector-related information, data on both demand and supply of skills is scantly available. In most cases, the available data is of a qualitative rather than quantitative nature. Most importantly, data on the specific educational and professional qualifications that are demanded at different occupational levels in the tourism sector is not easily available. This research addresses this gap and aims to forecast the demand for qualified labour in the South African hotel industry. In order to adequately address this problem, this study adopts a quantitative analysis of the educational qualifications that are demanded in the South African accommodation sector, according to the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and the Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET). The study makes use of secondary sources from Statistics South Africa (StatsSA), Culture Arts Tourism Hospitality and Sport Sector Education and Training authority (CATHSSETA) and Quantec databases; and primary source of data through an administered web-based survey. The research methodology used a three-pronged approach: first, a questionnaire that was distributed to hotels to obtain information on the current and expected turnover, current job levels and current qualification requirements from which employment elasticities were determined, similar to the research by the HRSC (1999); secondly, hotel turnover was forecasted using univariate forecasting methods and data available from StatsSA; and lastly the elasticities were linked with the turnover forecasts and qualifications demanded according to the CATHSSETA data. This was necessary in order to estimate the future demand for qualified labour in the hotel industry. In addition, qualitative adjustments were made based on the information obtained through the survey, although the CATHSSETA data was used for a more comprehensive analysis. The results show that the increase in demand for unskilled labour is slightly lower than the increase in demand for skilled labour, and the critically scarce occupations include chefs; hotel managers; restaurant managers; general managers; and operations managers.