Hospitality industry needs qualified professionals
Posted October 13, 2011, by Josie Chun
Australia’s tourism and hospitality industry may see a boost in the wake of Oprah’s visit Down Under, but it can’t afford to rest on its laurels. Skills shortages in the industry are rife, creating shortfalls in service and staffing that the country can ill afford.
The GFC, global pandemics and terrorist threats, combined with Australia’s geographical distance and strong dollar, have conspired to create a sharp decline in tourist numbers from traditional markets such as America and the UK. In this climate, Australia’s tourism and hospitality industry is being forced to raise its game to keep up with global standards. That means that the level of skills and qualifications for people working in the industry has to rise.
‘The tourism and hospitality industry is suffering severe skills shortages, and many of the half million employees working in tourism are unqualified,’ says Stuart Wiggins, deputy head of college at William Blue College of Hospitality Management.
‘Hospitality and tourism are “emerging professions” where historically, workers could pursue a career without the need for formal qualifications. Experience and enthusiasm were qualification enough in the past.’
However, in an increasingly sophisticated and competitive global market, experience and enthusiasm are no longer enough – at least not if you want to advance beyond entry level. Hotel groups and tourism operators now require staff with industry-recognised qualifications, especially for more senior positions.
‘The industry has a new wave of graduates ready to take entry-level jobs and gain experience; however operators are still enduring skills shortages in more senior and specialised positions. Those with years of experience in the industry are often required [to] formalise their knowledge via management degrees and professional bodies to advance up the ladder,’ says Wiggins.
So what qualifications are necessary to work in hospitality these days? ‘The lower level qualifications [certificates and diplomas] generally cover entry level skills and knowledge but the higher qualifications, such as bachelor’s and master’s degrees, focus more on the management and business skills necessary to be successful in what is the largest and fastest-growing industry in the world. Hospitality and tourism is, after all, big business,’ says Wiggins.
It’s a business that is expected to continue growing and Wiggins foresees very positive employment prospects for those with the right qualifications. ‘Our career management team always has industry partners trying to source staff for frontline positions in accommodation services, restaurants, bars, banqueting, events and kitchens. With the economy picking up again the demand is increasing.’
The future for those in hospitality is looking rosy. ‘A qualified hospitality manager will never be unemployed unless they want to be. The industry is growing faster than the supply of graduate managers and therefore the options are many, varied and global. Tourism and hospitality will continue to play a dynamic part in the ongoing global economy and will do so for many years to come,’ says Wiggins.
Baron Wills is a recent hospitality graduate who understands the value of formal qualifications. Having just completed the Bachelor of Business in Hospitality and Tourism Management at William Blue, Wills is now participating in the College’s graduate placement program and gaining valuable industry experience by working as a manager-in-training for the all-day dining restaurant at the Shangri-La Hotel in Sydney.
‘I knew that personality was important in this industry, but having the right qualification was the essential factor if I wanted to pursue a successful career in hospitality management,’ says Wills.
‘Working at the Shangri-La over the past year has given me amazing on-the-job experience at the entry level. I’ve moved around the hotel as a corporate management trainee, experiencing first-hand the daily challenges and rewards of each department.
We have a range of hospitality courses, including diplomas and bachelor degrees in hospitality management, from industry-recognised course providers. You can choose to study on campus or by distance – just find the course that best meets your needs.
The International College of Management, Sydney (ICMS) is a leading business school offering internationally recognised degrees in hospitality management. All ICMS courses are conducted on campus and offer valuable industry training as part of their programs.
SEEK Learning/William Blue College also offers business courses in hospitality management that can be undertaken online or on campus, with practical industry training that will give you the edge over others in the field.