The Association for Tourism in Higher Education (ATHE) Conference, December 6th-7th 2018
The 25th annual conference of the Association for Tourism in Higher Education had as its theme: Seeking to investigate diverse methodologies of engagement between tourism education and industry, the event focused on areas such as project-based learning (PBL) and establishing alliances with industry, particularly in relation to graduate employability and labour market transformation. This blog, written by Rose de Vrieze-McBean, shares relevant insights from the conference.
Preliminary research findings presented by the European Commission funded Next Tourism Generation (NTG) project indicate that digital and sustainability skills gaps exist in tourism and related sectors in Wales. Furthermore, these skills gaps are likely to worsen in the event of the UK exiting the European Union. Digital skills development is a contemporary priority as well as green and social skills needs for sustainability. Wales has a Sustainable Tourism Framework and a unique Well-Being of Future Generations Act 2015. Collaboration between industry and education is central to Welsh skills policy and three Regional Skills Partnerships have been formed.
Two of the Partnerships (North Wales and Mid/South West Wales) have tourism sector groups who sit with education and vocational training providers with a view to shape curriculum development and delivery. The Partnerships provide annual Employment and Skills Plans that highlight sectoral priorities for the Welsh Government. The extent to which the Partnerships will promote innovative curriculum development and delivery remains to be seen. Challenges include tourism not being recognized as a priority economic sector, a low level of participation by the tourism industry in the Partnerships, the absence of a sector specific training organization for tourism and as the industry is predominantly made up of SMEs.
The increasing demand for postgraduate programmes in travel and tourism is led by growing developments in the visitor-economy and the implicit demand for skilled professionals. Programmes are needed that incorporate practical and educational skills essential to equip students with proficiencies to meet the ever-changing business environment. The joint industry and academic team coaching side of the programme is a way of shifting the dynamics of the traditional classroom, unlocking creativity and innovation by developing individual, team and community learning. This is necessary in times when TEF ratings are key to reputation, and so pedagogy should be adapted to tomorrow’s graduates. Hence, a ‘new kind’ of graduates’ needs should be established by promoting a learning environment in which students take ownership of their learning.
Tourism management graduates are currently encountering employability issues, especially in securing jobs at a proper level, while the tourism industry is suffering a costly high labour turnover at entry-management levels. Recruitment campaigns indicate that some major tourism employers continue to overlook tourism degrees in their entry requirements for graduate schemes and job advertisements. Thus, non-tourism graduates continue to come to this industry from various specialisms, then leave to pursue their careers in other sectors. Three questions arise:
Are tourism employers underestimating the value of tourism graduates?
Are tourism curricula in higher education not fit for the purpose?
Or do tourism graduates not have the necessary skills/attitudes to succeed in the industry?
These are questions that the Next Tourism Generation project is focused on.
This presentation examined how industry-education collaboration can provide a “living lab” where students experience tourism challenges in real time while developing their skills in an experiential setting. It demonstrated how the instructor acts as the industry-student liaison who fosters a co-creation environment for curriculum development. Practices for in-event assessment included successes with video reflections and 360-degree feedback. It also showed how industry-education partnerships can be platforms for cultural integration and learning for all parties.
ATHE Innovation Award
Dr. Martin Robertson, an Associate Professor at Edinburgh Napier University, received the Award for Innovation for his delivery ofthe MSc Business Event Management degree in collaboration with the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC). The benefits of this innovative delivery to those involved were as follows:
– a co-creative and collaborative link towards excellence between Higher Education, local industry and international representation;
– real experiences in innovative collaborative work between industry and education;
– an application of academic knowledge into industry practice and partnership on a Masters degree programme (MSc Business Event Management);
– engagement of both students and staff members at the EICC and in the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (Business Events), with responsibility for the visitor economy and Edinburgh and Scotland’s competitiveness as a destination.
Host: Leeds Beckett University (School of Events, Tourism & Hospitality Management)
Date: December 6 – 7
By: Rose de Vrieze-McBean
Rose De Vrieze-McBean is a lecturer at Breda University of Applied Sciences (NLD), where she lectures in English and Academic Skills. She has been in this capacity since September 2002. Additionally, she has been a course-designer of numerous courses both in English and academic skills while playing an active role in student supervision. She is, moreover, a researcher and is currently working on the European Project: Next Tourism Generation (NTG).
Rose is nearing completion of her PhD at the University of Bedfordshire (UK), where she is examining the impact of Chinese millennial students’ visits on the Netherlands as well as on their own personal development. In her Master’s degree, she studied Chinese millennial students’ public speaking performance in Higher Education. She has also collaborated in other research projects, among others, an investigation into Breda University of Applied Sciences’ alumni with regard to curriculum development.