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Hospitality Graduate Survey Results for 2012

Part One - The Hotel School Perspective


By Jeff Ross, Managing Director, Hospitality Graduate Recruitment
April 2012


In early 2012, HGR conducted a 3-part survey around the general themes of hotel school education, and student and graduate employment within the hospitality industry.  Part 1 focused upon the hotel school’s perspective, with the aim of assessing the benefits to our industry in recruiting hotel school students and graduates, as well as the relevance of current hospitality education programmes to the industry. 

This part of the survey was sent to a sample of 100 hotel schools and universities internationally, to be completed by the careers teams of each establishment.  Below is a snapshot of the key findings:

1.  Identify the primary benefit to a hospitality business in employing a hotel school graduate.
  • Value for money – 24%
  • Strong Achievement Drive – 16%
  • Good operational (hospitality) knowledge – 13%
  • Language Ability – 13%
  • Ability to work well in multicultural teams – 13%
  • Graduates are good at completing project-based tasks on top of their day-to-day role – 8%
  • Other – 13%
2.  For what level of position do you think hotel school graduates are ready by the time of their graduation?
  • Management Trainee - 47%
  • Entry level - 18%
  • Supervisor - 16%
  • Junior Manager - 10%
  • Trainee - 9%
3.  Do you feel that a 6 month internship/traineeship period meets a student's on-the-job learning needs?
  • 6 months works well - 63%
  • 6 months is too short - 37%

4. Do you believe that interns should be paid for their training, or should hospitality interns be willing to conduct their internship for free (with the employer covering all necessary living expenses)?
  • Interns should be paid - 95%
  • Interns should be willing to work with living expense provision only and no salary - 5%
5.  Which hotel group(s) do you believe manage student and graduate recruitment the most effectively in general?
  • Marriott - 19%
  • Ritz Carlton - 16%
  • Four Seasons - 14%
  • Starwood - 13%
  • Hilton - 11%
  • IHG - 7%
  • Hyatt - 5%
  • Fairmont - 5%
  • Accor - 5%
  • Other - 5%
6.  What would you encourage hotel school management to consider when evaluating the effectiveness of their curriculum that would benefit most the graduate aiming to enter the hospitality industry after graduation? (selected, repeated responses shown below only)
  • "industry partners must be encouraged to review the hotel school's curriculum to see whether the needs of the industry are being met as taught, and delivered by the hotel schools"
  • "hotel schools must aim for a better mix of operational subjects (F&B, Rooms Division, craft based learning) in combination with the  theoretical subjects (finance, sales, revenue management). 
  •  "hotel schools must place greater emphasis on foreign languages"

From the above selection of survey results there are several key points of note.  Perhaps most significant, is the view from 37% of respondents that the 6 month internship placement period is too short to benefit candidates and employers alike.  HGR shares this viewpoint, and generally tries to encourage students to work a 12 month training placement where possible.  From the other survey parts, 27% of candidates agreed that 6 months was too short, and 56% of employers felt the same.  Increasingly, many (private) hotel schools do work with the 6 month academic semester system, including 6 month placement periods.  However, most are also quite flexible to accommodate students who wish to conduct a 12 month placement, and defer entry for their return to study by 6 months.  Perhaps this should be encouraged to a wider degree.   There was no room for doubt from the respondents that internship candidates should be remunerated by the employer for a work placement.

Always a contentious issue, is that of the position for which a graduate should aim for, or for which they should be 'ready' upon graduation.  For many years there has existed a disparity of view on this topic amongst graduates, employers and hotel schools.  It is interesting therefore to understand that hotel schools believe the majority of graduates should be aiming for graduate management training programmes.  Most graduates we feel would be more than happy to go along with that, but of course there are not many such programmes on the market these days, which naturally is going to lead to disappointment and compromise of expectations.  The employers that perhaps have insufficient resources or infrastructure to operate a complex management training programme, would be well advised to add some 'challenge' or 'structure' into their entry level and supervisory roles (it can be as simple as offering a period of official cross-training within other departments), as a means of attracting candidates that did have expectations of a more structured training programme.  HGR has witnessed great success from certain employers who have managed this in a smart way, with minimal or no financial investment.

Lastly, it is positive to see recognition from the hotel schools that more can still be done to work more closely with the hospitality employer, in assessing and improving the academic curriculum.  It is no easy task to achieve the most effective and marketable mix of academic and practical subjects from which to promote an academic qualification, thus satisfying all stakeholders.  Industry will seemingly always bemoan the lack of operational knowledge and experience from future candidates, and perhaps this is where certain institutions have derived success, by tailoring certain niche practical programmes very closely to the needs of the industry, thus ensuring the employability of their students and graduates.  Successful culinary institutes are one example of this success.  Conversely, the increase of certain tourism, events management and sports related programmes have become too prevalent, and without sufficient links to industry, resulting in discontentment from large numbers of graduates who have been unable to find employment in this niche upon graduation, and in some cases perhaps, the curriculum being misaligned from what is needed by industry.

With all these topics, it is very hard to generalize, and conclusions need to be selectively read.  In combination with the other 2 parts of the HGR survey however, a more thorough picture is available.  Thank you to all who participated in the survey.

Hospitality Graduate Recruitment (HGR) helps global hospitality employers find hotel school students and alumni for entry level, supervisory, trainee and junior management positions.  HGR operates a leading website which allows you to search for candidates and allows students and alumni to apply online to vacancies.  HGR works with over 300 partner hospitality management schools internationally, offering an extensive and diverse network of fresh talent. 
Visit our website for more information or contact Jeff N Ross, Managing Director, Hospitality Graduate Recruitment,

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Jeff Ross
Managing Director
Hospitality Graduate Recruitment (h-g-r)
Luzern, Switzerland
0041 41 370 6759 (Direct line)

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Also See: Hospitality Graduate Survey Results for 2011 Demonstrates Primary Interests Remains with Hotel Operations; Additionally Culinary Department Interest is on the Rise / April 2011

Hotel Jobs at Risk: Credit Crunch Likely to Impact Human Resource Continuity / Jeff Ross/ October 2008

Co-ops, Consortiums, and Clusters; Pros, Cons, and Cautions For Hotel Owners / Ronald A. Nykiel and James C. Makens / February 2005

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