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Report EUHOFA webinar 'Bridging the Divide between the Hospitality Industry and Education'

The webinar of Thursday 8th February 2024 can be viewed at

The focus of the free webinar was to try and understand the increasingly large ‘gap’ that exists between the hospitality industry and hospitality education.  The evidence of this gap was presented during the webinar, based on an extensive international survey of both industry and education undertaken by ehotelier during November/December 2023. EUHOFA's webinar for Hospitality Education leaders attracted over 144 international registrations from a wide range of industry and education organisations from Australia to Finland via Asia and the Americas. The panel of senior industry and education representatives discussed the evidence from the research and the wider issues of the relationships between industry and education. The panel consisted of:Mr Gavin Faull - Chairman & President Swiss-Belhotel International and Zest Hotel International - New Zealand Mr P.K. Mohan Kumar - Founder and CEO of Turnstone Hospitality LLP - India

Regina Santamaria - Executive Manager of Hospitality at Michael Page - Spain

Lisa Wyld - Head Missenden Abbey International Hotel School, New Buckinghamshire University - UK

Stuart Wiggins - Pro-Vice Chancellor, ICMS - Australia

Moderator, Peter A. Jones - EUHOFA International

Moderator, Ursula Boardman - Moderator - The CRUMBS Project UK

Photo: Maarten van Vliet

Discussion The research was able to compare the views of Industry, with 63% of respondents and education with 37% of respondents. There was an overwhelming view from both industry and education, that there is a "gap" between industries, expectations of education and the reality, and that gap has widened over the last five years.

There was also a strong commonality in the views of industry and education that education and training will have to change radically to keep pace with the industry changes, and although there was some differential between industries and education's views to the statement that, ‘education and training is NOT good at preparing students for industry’.  The difference was not as great as could have been expected, with the industry agreeing to the statement at 67% and education at 54%. This still provides a majority view that the current system is not working.

The webinar panel, in discussion, commented on the richness of the survey comments and the challenges in developing relationships between industry and education. Many of the formal relationships, including industry advisory boards were not seen as being particularly valuable, and informal discussions were considered to be more meaningful in developing a better understanding.

The panel discussed the discrepancies between tourism, hospitality, and events curricula and the industry's expectations. Stuart emphasised the need to balance business and industry-specific subjects in the curriculum. Mohankumar shared his perspective on the Indian hospitality industry, highlighting the perception issue around work-life balance and the gap between industry expectations and hotel management curricula.

Disparity The challenges faced by young graduates, particularly the disparity between theoretical knowledge and practical industry realities, were also discussed and Mohankumar highlighted the lack of symbiotic relationships between industry and education, emphasising the importance of practical skills and knowledge in the hospitality industry.

Stuart discussed the importance of the customer experience in the hospitality profession, emphasising the need for a focus on core capabilities sought by the industry. He suggested a return to fundamental principles as a way to improve stakeholder relationships. He also mentioned the launch of a professional development lab and the idea of a pre-professional development model for students.

Gavin Faull discussed the challenges they face in staffing, including mental health issues and regulatory constraints, and the importance of effective communication within their organisations. Gavin also proposed the need for an accreditation process that would demonstrate that the curriculum was ‘fit for purpose’. The importance of maintaining strong connections between education and industry was emphasized, with Regina highlighting the need for education to strengthen alumni relations and establish partnerships with companies. Lisa focused on building an industry-centric curriculum and key partnerships with industry players. Stuart suggested a focus on the first year of the curriculum to ensure students are employable and to rebuild industry trust in educational institutions. The group also discussed the importance of sharing learnings with college students and the potential for professional development modules for hoteliers.

Shared responsibilities The panel agreed on the importance of industry involvement in every educational module, structured internships, and improving communication between industry and education.

In conclusion, the panel emphasised the importance of shared ambition, ideas of co-ownership, shared responsibilities, and mutual investments between the hotel industry and education. They proposed the need for an accreditation process and developing and maintaining strong connections and communications between education and industry.

In monitoring the webinar ‘chat’, it was obvious that the research and the panel's comments and views resonated strongly with those with both the industry and educational participants.

Next webinar April 3rd The short survey at the end of the webinar gave 100% ratings for the webinar and indicated that the participants would be interested in participating in future webinars.

The webinars have tackled issues which both education and industry have recognised as being very relevant and important given the continuing growth of the industry. They have attracted a wide variety of participants in significant numbers. There is evidence that the issues have an international impact, and EUHOFA is leading that debate.

The final webinar in the series will be held on April 3, as a Livestream event in conjunction with the EUHOFA Congress being held in Austria. For this event, the theme will be developing new models of hospitality, education and training.


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