An analysis of skills expectations of learners versus employers : the case of culture, arts, tourism, hospitality and sport SETA
Zwane, Faith Nomakhosazana
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The economic growth in the tourism industry is changing the structure of labour markets, increasing the level of competitiveness and thereby creating a need for improved labour productivity and a more flexible workforce. Education and the creation of employment are among the key priorities of the South African government. This process can be successful only if companies raise performance and productivity standards through the enhancement and development of skills. To succeed in the rebuilding process, it is imperative that the various stakeholders interact to establish the composition of the relevant skills and qualifications required. Consequently, the growth of job opportunities in the tourism sector has uncovered various challenges, including gaps in the areas of education, training and development. These gaps have resulted in low levels of productivity and are currently creating unsatisfied expectations for students and job providers. Hence, it is a priority of government to develop quality Learnerships and Internships in South Africa to improve skills and the qualifications of the tourism workforce. Employers are increasingly conscious of the value for money from their investments in training and are demanding that training be more deliberately aligned with the strategic needs of their organisations. However, the tourism industry is still complaining that learners are not adequately prepared for the workplace and the learners believe that they have sufficient knowledge to meet the needs of the industry. The purpose of this research was to analyse the skills expectations of learners versus employers: the case of the Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality and Sport SETA (CATHSSETA). To achieve this aim, the following objectives were set: to analyse literature concerning human resource management with the main focus falling on training, to contextualise the current tourism education environment in South Africa, to compare the differences in skills expectations between learners and employers in the tourism industry and, lastly, to draw conclusions and make recommendations regarding the skills expectations in tourism education. This was achieved by conducting quantitative research by means of a structured questionnaire that was distributed to 202 employers and 1023 learners on the CATHSSETA database. The questionnaires were linked and captured on an online program named Survey Monkey. The application of SPSS, descriptive statistics, Factor Analysis, Confirmatory Factor Analysis, ANOVA and t-tests resulted in indicating various significant differences between skills expected by employers and skills presented by learners. These statistical analysis methods were used to demonstrate the gaps between the skills expectation of the role players. It was surprising to find that significant differences existed for most skills with the biggest gaps on self-reliance and people skills. The employers’ survey reflected that a priority for employers is customer orientation and learners’ willingness to learn. In all instances, employers expected learners to be better skilled than was the actual case. The results suggest that the learners are unable to adhere to the current demands of the industry. It was also found that learners rated their own skills much higher than the perception of employers. The results of this study can be used to assist CATHSSETA in improving their current training programmes to ensure they meet the needs of the broader tourism industry. It can also be used as a guideline for any training institution for improving the current tourism training programmes. This will contribute to the overall quality and sustainability of the tourism industry.