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Higher education, employability and future managers: the case of tourism management undergraduates in the UK

Higher education, employability and future managers: the case of tourism management undergraduates in the UK

Eteiwy, Khairy (2020) Higher education, employability and future managers: the case of tourism management undergraduates in the UK. PhD thesis, University of Greenwich.

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This thesis critically analyses the relationship between undergraduate tourism management education, the tourism industry’s entry-level managerial turnover problems and the employability prospects of the current cohort of Tourism Management Undergraduates (TMUs) in the UK. Using a concurrent multilevel mixed methodology design, qualitative data were generated from semi-structured interviews with prominent tourism industry and academic experts and were analysed using content analysis. Quantitative data came from an online survey that utilised prior graduate employability models and the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) to examine both the experience and career intention of TMUs in UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). This dataset was analysed using a combination of descriptive and inferential statistics, including multiple linear regression analyses.

Findings suggest that tourism degrees are still perceived poorly by the industry, mainly due to an inherited low image related to a widely held belief about the seriousness of tourism management as a career and as a Higher Education (HE) degree. This poor image is then attached to tourism graduates and hence they are often not seen as highly employable, particularly by major tourism employers. Academia-industry liaison, a key strategy usually employed to resolve these issues, is also found defective and the implications of this and possible solutions are suggested. Small, emerging and technology-related Tourism Employers (STEs) show more interest in tourism graduates and the willingness to collaborate with academia in developing both the curriculum and TMUs’ employability. However, they do not have the resources to fully engage in this process and thus a supportive collaborative graduate programme that includes policymakers and HEIs leading the procedure to engage these small businesses is also recommended. The tourism curriculum is also criticised for overall incoherence. This is manifested not only in problems in delivering core management content and keeping pace with his industry’s digital developments, but also in the proliferation of highly varied curricula for similarly titled degrees. This incoherence continues to confuse employers and graduates, while placing extra pressures on academics, who are also having to work within a neoliberal HE environment, under pressure from recruitment, retention, and employability metrics.

More positively, the TPB test results suggest that TMUs generally possess strong intentions to pursue long-term careers in tourism and, when combined other data, results indicate that TMUs hold sufficient managerial competencies. Thus, given the opportunity, TMUs can potentially contribute to reducing tourism’s entry-level managerial turnover rate through this mix of encouraging career intention and competencies.

Finally, this study contributes to the literature in terms of both conceptual and practical gaps in tourism curriculum designs and the future employability of TMUs, who mainly belong to a largely unexplored age group. A new empirically informed Graduate Employability Model (GEM) is presented at the end of this thesis. This GEM has potentials to aid tourism academics and Human Resources Management (HRM) in resolving these issues, but understandably needs further testing.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Tourism management education, higher education,
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business
Faculty of Business > Department of Marketing, Events & Tourism
Last Modified: 28 Sep 2021 16:54

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