The assumed connection between economic prosperity and education has spurned a worldwide growth of tertiary education. Tertiary institutes are under increasing pressure to deliver programs that not only meet the core requirements, but their curricula must be continually updated to keep pace with industry trends and technological advances. Additionally, the need for students to make willful and gainful contributions to business performance and increased productivity, alliances are being made with the various industry segments to ensure that the curriculum also correlates with ‘real world worth’ when entering the employment market.
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Over the past 10 years, there has been an increased emphasis on tourism training and education. This can be seen by the increasing number of institutes offering tourism and hospitality courses, especially in countries, such as New Zealand, that heavily rely on tourism for economic growth and employment, and has become a major socio-economic phenomenon.
The worldwide growth of tourism, being the largest global income earner, has resulted in unprecedented demand for suitably qualified tourism and hospitality staff, at all levels of the industry. The interdisciplinary nature of tourism is becoming increasingly important to employers and education institutes alike. Fallows and Stevens (2000) completed a research programme in an effort to ascertain what employees are seeking from recent tourism graduates. The response was overwhelming, indicating that not only do they require the core academic skills and knowledge, but individuals who have the capacity to work autonomously, be proactive and be creative in their workplace solutions. As a result, education institutes must not only provide the essential interdisciplinary courses related to tourism, but encourage free and innovative thinking in their students, and imprint a sense of confidence in their abilities.
Several developments, including increasing competition, changing labor market dynamics, changing demand patterns and technological advances require new employability skills from graduates to enable them to cope with these changing circumstances. Today, employers are looking for educated workers who are flexible and adaptable as business owners themselves seek to be more proactive and adaptable in their markets which are characterized by constant change.
The tourism industry is an exciting industry, which not only offers a great lifestyle, but which is now offering the educated employee a dearth of opportunity for growth and career development. Ensure that you register with a reputable education institute which has a specialized tourism department, equipped to pass on the multi-disciplinary knowledge required to satisfy the needs of employers and succeed within the industry.