Challenges/Issues facing the sector
The tourism industry in Australia faces various human resources challenges especially regarding the availability of skilled labor. Tourism industry refers to all the activities surrounding the consumption of goods and services by visitors (Australian Bureau of Statistics, ABS 2008). The tourism industry has many functions including earning foreign exchange for the country (Dwyer 2011), providing a source of employment and income (Murthy 2008). The process of earning of foreign exchange to a country and providing sources of income to the citizens ultimately lead to economic development in a country (Iankova, Hassan, & L'abbe? 2016). Australia’s tourism industry has bravely faced and weathered various challenges over the last few years including September 11th attack in the US, the Gulf war, the 2008 world economic meltdown and the Asian Financial Crisis. Low-cost airlines and cost-cutting measures instituted by the government are largely responsible for the resilience in the tourism industry in Australia. However, the cost-cutting measures severely affected the labor sector and the skilled worker's shortage has persisted to date (Stergiou, Airey, & Riley 2008).
Geographical delimitation/focus: Countrywide and the location of the tour operator are either regional or in the cities which is important as the seasonality aspect of the tourism industry is felt more severely in the regions than in the cities
Relevant employment issues
Another factor affecting the human resources in Australia’s tourism sector is the regional dispersion of the tourism operations. Some operators concentrate their business in the city while the other operators are found in the various regions across the country. The location of the tour operator either regionally or in the cities is important as the seasonality aspect of the tourism industry is felt more severely in the regions than in the cities (Baum 2008).
- Government policies and industrial practices
- Young generation which considers life-work balance and recognition more important than money. The young generation is averse to working in the industry.
Examples from research
An example that shows the magnitude of the problem is the case of a popular tour operator who has resorted to employing foreigners and even enabling them to acquire citizenship as they are the only qualified people who are ready to work in her tourist establishment.
Importance of the problem to warrant a new policy
The whole tourism industry faces stiff challenges regarding skills shortages, but the problem is more pronounced at the hospitality subsector (Australia. Department Of Education, E. A. W. R. O. O. R. S. A. J. 2013). The tourism sector analysis faces challenges due to its fragmented nature, a function of the immensity of the industry. Tourism Industry touches and interacts with many industries and sectors the economy and segregating the aspects that constitute the tourism industry is a tall order (Leiper 2008). Furthermore, the industry operators differ in a scale ranging from individual operators to multinational corporations with different and unique human resources issues to grapple with, including human resources strategic plans, training budgets and career progression (Whitelaw, Barron, Buultjens, Cairncross, & Davidson 2009).
Seasonality has further implications in the human resources planning and development. Seasonality ensures that it is virtually impossible to employ standard principles in human resources such as employing people on a permanent and pensionable basis (Badri & Ji 2015). Rather, tour operators engage employees on a need-basis and let them go when the demand for their services has diminished. The employees might not be available the next time they are needed, and the employers will have to get other employees, train them and deploy them for service (Leiper 2008).
Seasonality also affects the tourism industry through the increase in the cost of operations. During low seasons, the operators are hit with highly volatile operating costs affecting the resource allocation modules and most operators resort to reducing the number of staff in their employment (Whitelaw, Barron, Buultjens, Cairncross, & Davidson 2009).
Research indicates that the seasonality of the industry is the main culprit in the high turnover of management staff in the sector with some regional operators recording as high as 59% turnover rates in their management staff. To compound the human resources issues, the nature of work demand a certain type of people such as one who will not be affected by the 24-hour nature of the work, and one who does not have a problem interacting with people of different cultural backgrounds. Also, the industry demands excellent interpersonal and communication skills (Kandasamy & Ancheri 2009).
The human resources problems in the tourism industry in Australia affect both the hiring and retention of personnel. The various factors affect the hiring decisions of the tour operators as they spend a lot of money sourcing for skilled employees only to lose them during the low seasons (Robinson & Beesley 2010). The seasonality of the employment in the tourism sector has created the perception in many Australian’s minds that working in the hospitality industry, and specifically the tourism sector is not a career and most work in the industry while studying for other pursuits (Davidson, & King 2008).
The tourism industry is varied with different skill sets required in different sectors. All the sectors in the industry need varied and specific skills which make the work of developing a comprehensive curriculum for the industry a nightmare. The skills range from numeracy skills to the intra and interpersonal skills necessary for the interaction with the customers. Interpersonal skills on their part encompass many other skills including communication skills, leadership skills, emotional intelligence, critical thinking skills and problems solving skills. The educational needs of the industry are not in sync with the needs of the industry. The educators do not seem to understand the current needs of the industry, and the skills imparted on the hospitality industry graduates lack the necessary skills that they need to perform at their workplaces (Baum & Szivas 2008).
Over the years, the tourism sector has gained a poor reputation as an industry that employs low-skilled labor with poor pay. At the same time, the industry is not known to provide life job balance and only pick up people when they need them and dump them as soon as the high season ends. The problem gets worse with the changes in the job expectations of the current graduates which emphasize other social factors other than money as necessities in a job. The young generation considers life-work balance, recognition, career progression as more important to them than just a good salary (Richardson 2009).
The generation change and other social changes have an impact on the expectations of the young graduates which most often proves to be contrary to the industry’s practices. A young graduate expects to be promoted within the first two years of joining employment. Delay or non-existent career progression makes it difficult for the employees to stick to the tourism sector. Also, the graduates in the current generation are socially orientated, and they need to feel that they are recognized and that they are involved in the decisions affecting their work (Chen & Choi, 2008).
In the industrialized countries like Australia, the government has allowed migrant who provides cheap labor meaning that highly skilled personnel natives to the country have no opportunities. Over time, the trend of employing migrant workers at minimum wage encourages the industry players to neglect training and career development of their workforce. Also, there are unfair dismissal laws, and the employee would rather find a job elsewhere rather than in the tourism industry. Also, few employees are motivated enough to invest in skills that would serve the industry while others are disillusioned by the incongruence between their expectations and the reality at the workplace that they quit and find other sources of income (Whitelaw et al. 2009).
Statement of Need
Why is the plan needed?
The plan is needed because there is a need to address the human resources skills shortage in Australia’s tourism industry. The hospitality and tourism industry faces many challenges regarding skills shortages. The tourism sector analysts and education providers face challenges due to the tourist industry’s fragmented nature, a function of the immensity of the industry (Richardson 2009). Tourism Industry touches and interacts with many industries and sectors the economy and segregating the aspects that constitute the tourism industry is a tall order. Also, the industry operators differ in a scale ranging from individual operators to multinational corporations with different and unique human resources issues to grapple with, including human resources strategic plans, training budgets and career progression (Magnini 2009).
Government and Business’s roles
The government has varied roles in the tourism industry, and in particular in ensuring that there is enough skilled workforce in the industry. First, the government policies ensure that the tourism sector in Australia remain vibrant with tourists pouring into the country and bringing with them the much needed foreign exchange (Solnet & Kralji 2010). The government must ensure that there enough skilled and well-motivated workers to serve the tourists otherwise the industry will not be sustainable. Secondly, the government policies should ensure that the industry is regulated regarding the people employed and their welfare including requisite skills. Tourist operators are I the business to make money, and if more profits can be made through cutting corners and employing immigrants and paying them minimum wages, then that is what they will do. The government needs to intervene to ensure that the people employed, whether immigrants or natives are qualified and are paid commensurate wages for their labor, thus making the industry attractive to skilled employees. Third, the government should fund research on the skills needs of the tourism industry to develop a curriculum that is in sync with the needs of the industry.
On its part, the business community has a major role to play in the process of attracting and retain qualified personnel in the industry. Some researchers have argued that many tour operators cannot do their research while others are unwilling to take up current knowledge and incorporate it into their management activities (Cervera-Taulet & Ruiz-Molina 2008). However, research findings indicate that that position is changing. Managers and owners of SME are actively sourcing information to help them manage their resources better in the face of hard economic times (Bonsall 2008). When managers learn and employ it in the management of their businesses, they transfer the same to their employees. The interns can gain the acquired and applied knowledge from their employers and later transmit the same to their future employers (Breakey, Robinson, & Beesley 2008).
The stakeholders in the alleviation of the shortage of skilled workers in the tourism industry in Australia include the government, the business owners, and the employees.
Key trends that influence the shortage of skilled staff in the tourism industry
Medium-term arrangements should center on building limit inside the nearby locale (recommended time span is inside 6 to 12 months). This could incorporate building up help systems to help organizations with getting to the correct help programs, creating preparing programs applicable to the district's needs, and building better-coordinated effort between key partners in the district to move in the direction of a mutual result for the tourism business (Choi & Dickson 2010).
Challenges and how the agency can respond
The main problem that faces the education providers is that the curriculum needs to be wide enough to cater for the many subsectors in the tourism industry. For instance, the graduates need skills to serve in subsectors in the industry such as serving airlines and heritage sites while at the same time the curriculum is to produce skills needed in to serve the SME and other operators (Lashley 2009).
Possible reasons for government/business intervention
The government needs to intervene to ensure that the industry has skills to increase the user experience of the tourists. Some help administrations give more included an incentive than others. From the low learning force to the most noteworthy included esteem, they can run from giving data, bringing issues to light, going about as a facilitator/impetus. Also, they are charged with offering settlement in land/resorts; encourage coordinating/interfaces between partners, supporting the evaluation of the business' qualities, giving insight/information, giving exhortation, offering preparing, fashioning organizations, supporting the primary customer look, encouraging exchange and financier, to putting resources into money-related designing apparatuses.
Desirable effects/benefits and or outcomes of the plan
The advantages of the proposed plan are that if implemented fully, it has the potential of ensuring that there is a reduction in the skilled labor shortages in Australia thus and improving tourism experience. Improved tourism experience leads to more tourist arriving in Australia and will, therefore, have a ripple effect throughout the economy. Secondly, the plan has the potential of serving as a pilot project for use in other sectors of the economy experiencing similar programs.
The scope of the proposed Plan
Possible policy approaches
A decent method to apply the idea is to configuration bolster administrations to SMEs, joining money related and non-monetary instruments. For example, concedes and training; venture preparation and value back; coaching and fare bolster; stipends for creative activities and administration ability or enlistment of Ph.D. understudies (Magnini 2009).
Appropriate Instruments for the plan
In the plan, the government will support the tourism industry in solving the skilled workforce mainly through indirect policy instruments. One of the policy instrument will involve providing the infrastructure for developing training institutions and funding the research to equip the established education providers with the requisite knowledge to serve the tourism industry.
Combination of different instruments
A combination of the direct and indirect tools would be more effective in supporting ensuring that the plan succeeds and serves the industry.
The resources required for the plan to work include the human resources and budgetary financial resources from the government.
Advantages and disadvantages of the proposed plan
The advantages of the proposed plan are that if implemented fully, it has the potential of ensuring that there is a reduction in the skilled labor shortages in Australia thus and improving tourism experience. Improved tourism experience leads to more tourist arriving in Australia and will, therefore, have a ripple effect throughout the economy (Solnet & Hood, 2008). Secondly, the plan has the potential of serving as a pilot project for use in other sectors of the economy experiencing similar programs (ABS 2008).
The main disadvantage of the plan is that it may not have noticeable changes in the short-term as the process of skill acquisition and attracting potential employees into the tourism industry will take time.
Can the policy plan provide direction?
The proposed policy plan provides direction on the way the industry and the government are supposed to interact to address the shortage of labor in Australia’s tourism industry.
The Planning Process
- Defining and profiling the area that has the issue to be addressed
- Identification of the area’s skills and other labor shortage issues
- Selection of appropriate solutions for the selected area
- The allocation of roles, duties, and responsibilities. Also, determine timelines for delivery.
- The plan is after that Implemented, constant appropriate communication channels opened, results measured and if any discrepancies are identified, the plan should be revised.
How will it be done?
The plan will be instituted immediately after the government approves it. The plan will be reviewed using the laid down procedures that would ensure that the plan was properly implemented. The review will involve checking whether all the laid down plans were followed to the letter and any discrepancy noted and factored into the final report. The discrepancies can easily affect the results obtained, and it is important to figure it in the so that the results can be properly grounded (Lashley & Rowson 2010).
Who will be consulted?
There will be a need to consult all the stakeholders including the government officials, industry experts, and consultants knowledgeable in the field of education and skills acquisition.
How will the plan be implemented?
The policy plan is a document that has the input of all the stakeholders in the economy and especially the one affected by the said problems. The implication of involving all the stakeholders in the tourism industry is to ensure that the implantation process will be smooth (Lashley & Rowson 2010). The plan will be implemented as stipulated in the plan as it had the inputs of all the stakeholders.
How will it be reviewed?
The plan will be reviewed using the laid down procedures that would ensure that the plan was properly implemented. The review will involve checking whether all the laid down plans were followed to the letter and any discrepancy noted and factored into the final report. The discrepancies can easily affect the results obtained, and it is important to figure it in the so that the results can be properly grounded (Choi & Dickson 2010).
How will the success or lack of success be measured?
At the stage of preparing the proposed plan, the planners had ensured that it contained important key Performance indicators (KPI) and goals. An example of these goals and KPI is:
Increase in Vocational Education VETis related to the tourism industry in the country.
An increase in the number of the VETis in the country compared to a period before the plan.
If the KPI were not attained and there were no discrepancies in the process during the review, then it is clear that the goals were not reached. On the other hand, if the KPI is reached, then the plan was successful.
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