Analysing employers’ expectations of employee skills in the South African tourism industry
Zwane, Faith N.
Du Plessis, Lindie
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Orientation: Owing to the nature of the tourism industry, which is highly service orientated, employees should possess certain skills such as self-reliance, people and certain specialist skills, and general employability when working in this industry. However, it seems that employees are not well enough prepared and equipped with these skills to satisfy the requirements of employers. Thus human resource practitioners need to provide more in-service training. Furthermore, there is a high turnover of employees, which adds pressure to the management of human resources. Research purpose: This study focused on comparing employers’ expectations of employee skills in the tourism industry and the skills acquired by learners in the Culture, Art, Tourism, Hospitality and Sport Skills Education Training Authorities’ (CATHSSETA) programmes with regard to self-reliance, people and certain specialist skills, and general employability. Motivation for the study: Education, training and the creation of employment are amongst the key priorities of the South African government for improving the current labour situation in the tourism industry. However, the industry has complained that learners are not prepared for the workplace. Thus, it is important to determine the skills that are supposedly lacking. Research design, approach and method: Descriptive research, following a quantitative approach, was chosen, whereby questionnaires were distributed amongst tourism and hospitality employers listed with CATHSSETA (N = 217). A total of 141 (n = 141) completed questionnaires were received (a response rate of 65%). Between 2008 and 2012, 5633 learners participated in the CATHSSETA programmes. Descriptive statistics and t-tests were used to analyse the data. Main findings: Employers expect higher levels of competence than those which learners in the CATHSSETA programme can deliver. More specifically, employers indicate that learners lack skills in handling customers professionally and being proactive in solving problems. This creates difficulties in operating in the tourism business environment where service delivery is important in satisfying tourists’ needs and improving loyalty levels to the establishment. Nor are employers satisfied with the ability of learners to be self-reliant. A lack of cooperation between the various role players in developing appropriate training programmes is evident. Practical/managerial implications: It is necessary to review the current CATHSSETA programme and training providers to ensure that quality training is provided. Human resource practitioners should be involved in the development of a more appropriate programme that will adhere to the needs of the tourism industry. Training programmes should focus on the development of self-reliance and, more specifically, the ability to deal with customers in an efficient and professional manner. These are basic skills that the learners currently lack. Prospective learners should take an aptitude test to ensure that they will be able to meet the requirements of this industry and to manage the challenges facing them. Contribution: The most important skills needed for working in the tourism environment were identified thus giving direction to the development of tourism training programmes. The importance of cooperation in developing training programmes was emphasised.