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Tourism manager about education: “Strikingly more men”

Analyses of the future TOP competences in tourism clearly show that “gender equality skills” are crucial for the future. Accordingly, corresponding competence gaps must be remedied by raising awareness within companies at various management levels. Still, it seems women need to bring the extra skill to be rated as competent as men when applying for a job.

As far as the development of future key competences not only for women is concerned, NTG gives a good overview on the main digital, green and social skills. Most important to improve women’s role in tourism is to make sure they have the same access to key competencies. This would be e.g. digital skills such as evaluating and managing big data as well as know how to communicate and collaborate through digital technologies on a management level. In addition, social skills such as problem solving, communication skills as well as the ability to create a positive work environment are important management skills for both men and women. However, to pass gender inequality, women need to get access and then promote these competencies even stronger in the future.

Talking about green skills, it might come into consideration, that awareness has changed lately with global protests and climate marches. For Germany, especially in younger generations, awareness has been there before and green skills were part of education. True, that for now the price is still the selling point in most of the cases. However, as long as the tourism industry believes the client originally generates the need, action will be missing. Moreover, there is a risk that those businesses and regions that do not change in time, will not survive as client behavior starts to change faster than industry does. One reason is the guest itself; a second definitely is the younger employers’ wish to have a meaningful and sustainable work and life. Therefore, facing the lack of professionals, businesses need to provide a clear picture of not only career perspectives, but also their engagement in green and social skills.

In an interview with the taz, a German daily newspaper founded in 1978 in West-Berlin, Christine Garbe, project manager at the German consortium partner DSFT Berlin, clearly points out that the tourism industry is conservative and not very women-friendly. Sustainable development is considered not more than a business factor.  See what according to her experience from the NTG project results needs to be done.


Mrs. Garbe, at congresses, podiums, fairs, the eloquent tourist world consists almost exclusively of grey-suited men. Where are the many women who study tourism?


Christine Garbe: It is true: Women dominate the tourist professions, both in vocational training and in higher education. Women are represented here with 75 percent, especially in the bachelor’s degree programmes in tourism management. At the same time, women do not find themselves in management positions.

The number of women is already declining during the Master’s programme at University. Moreover, when women end up at a tourism company, they seldom make it to the management level. It may have something to do with starting a family. However, it is also a fact that women are not trusted to have certain leadership qualities. If males and females apply for a job, men a priori have better chances just because women are rated less competent.

There are noticeably more men in dual courses of study in tourism. The job interviews tend to be in favour of men, especially in the male-dominated degree programmes. It is not the other way around. In the female-dominated degree programmes there is no such regularity that men are more likely to be rejected.


The tourism industry is not ­family-friendly, cries out for more flexible working hours and low pay – is there much frustration among trainees?


The number of beginners in tourism training occupations is decreasing; the number of students in tourism occupations is increasing, for example in tourism management or event management. Graduates of these courses hope for a leading position. However, this is not what the structure of medium-sized enterprises in the tourism industry is like. That means I study tourism management and end up in a travel agency at the counter. That must create frustration.


What role does sustainability play in training?


A subordinate role. There are also too few companies where trainees could deepen these topics. At the same time, however, I see a need among today’s school leavers for the meaningfulness of work. In the past it was about earning good money, today the sense has a central meaning, and sustainability is meaningful.


Are there offers for sustainability in the industry?


In the niche area, otherwise there is little awareness of it.


So a new generation will lift it?


I see a very clear change in the values of the younger generation. In addition, this happens in both ways: first as the wish of doing something meaningful as an employee thus challenging the industry and businesses and second as a client having a higher awareness of impact of climate, social and gender inequality etc.


What would you recommend to someone who is currently studying tourism?


To choose a dual study because practice and theory play together here.


In the interview:

Christine Garbe is project manager of the international project “Next Tourism Alliance” at the German Seminar for Tourism. There she is in charge of seminars and further education. She has more than 20 years of experience in sustainable tourism management.


Originally published at Taz 


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