An Investigation into Perceptions of Work-Based Placements and Graduate Employability in the Hospitality and Tourism Industry.
Aim This research investigates students’, employers’ and Higher Education (HE) institutions’ perceptions of work-based placements and whether these improved graduates’ employment chances within the Hospitality and Tourism (H&T) industry. Design and Methodological Approach For this research a qualitative research approach has been selected, using semistructured and asynchronous electronic interviews as well as focus groups to obtain data from a non-probability purposive sample of three semi-structured and two asynchronous electronic interviews with International Hospitality and Tourism Management (IHTM) graduates, five semi-structured interviews with academic staff of Queen Margaret University (QMU) and four semi-structured interviews with senior managers from five hospitality businesses in Edinburgh. Data source and methodological triangulation was applied to the research design before a thematic analysis was used to analyse the data and answer the research question. Key Findings The key findings highlight the importance of work-based placements by current students, academics and industry. It is, however, also identified that there is a clear divide between the industry’ expectations of hospitality graduates and what current students’ and HE institutions’ believe the H&T industry is looking for. Moreover, the findings also present a body of evidence relating specifically to the quality of internships and the impact on students’ perceptions of pursuing a career in the H&T industry. Finally, key findings also stated the importance of an enhanced partnership between the stakeholders to enhance employment chances of hospitality graduates. Future Recommendations Key recommendations for future research include the need of further investigation such as expanding the research to other H&T undergraduate programmes across Scotland and the UK. Furthermore, it is recommended to focus on measures to improve the quality of students’ work-based placement as the quality of internships was identified as a significant reason of why practical experiences encourage or discourage students entering into H&T industry.