World Panel
Viewpoint18 July 2019

Is our industry lagging behind due to a lack of proper education?

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Hospitality HR experts estimate there are 100,000 open IT and digital marketing positions in hospitality in North America alone. This labor shortage and lack of adequate investments jeopardize the introduction of the latest technology applications and best practices, curbs new implementations and stifles technology innovations in the industry.  Is the lack of proper education - hospitality technology degrees and courses at hospitality schools, and professional development opportunities on hotel IT and digital marketing - the reason for this labor shortage and for the industry falling behind from a technology perspective? What's your take?

This viewpoint was created by
Max Starkov, Adjunct Professor NYU Tisch Center for Hospitality, Founder & Director at NextGuest Digital
Linchi Kwok
Associate Professor at The Collins College of Hospitality Management

As more hotels and restaurants provide automatic service to customers, our industry definitely needs more workers who possess the necessary technical skills to “manage” the machines to ensure they deliver the desired outcomes. To fill such technical positions, however, I wonder if it would be easier or more effective for a hospitality company to hire someone with an engineering degree or from a vocational school.

If we are talking about educating our future hospitality leaders with the antiquate technological competencies, I agree that hospitality schools should work closely with the industrial experts in developing new courses and guest speaker series to cover the relevant content. Primarily driven by my unique teaching philosophy, I believe it is more important for a university professor to teach our students the “transferable skills” and inspire them to remain curious during the journey of inquiry, rather than only focusing on delivering the content of a textbook. Meanwhile, a university's role in educating our future leaders should also be adjusted accordingly (e.g., helping students develop technical and interpersonal skills and advance analytical skills, among others). 

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