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Journal of Human Resources in Hospitality & Tourism, 9:179199, 2010

Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLC ISSN: 1533-2845 print / 1533-2853 online DOI: 10.1080/15332840903383855

Generation Ys Perceptions and Attitudes Towards a Career in Tourism and Hospitality

Taylors University College, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

The purpose of this study is to examine the attitudes and perceptions of current undergraduate tourism and hospitality students in Australia towards careers in the industry. The study is exploratory and based on a quantitative approach. Areas that students have concerns over include respondents relationship with their managers, promotion opportunities, career paths, and the pay and conditions on offer within the industry. Possibly the most alarming nding to come out of this study is that more than 50% of respondents are already contemplating careers outside the industry. Of those with work experience in the industry, 38.1% claim that they will not work in the tourism and hospitality industry after graduation, with 91.7% of these respondents citing working experience in the industry as the main reason for this decision. KEYWORDS Generation Y, tourism and hospitality, undergraduate students, attitudes, perceptions, work, careers

The tourism and hospitality industry worldwide, and in Australia in particular, has been confronted with the problem of attracting and retaining quality employees which has led to a shortage of skilled personnel to staff the ever-growing number of tourism and hospitality businesses (Andorka, 1996; Deery & Shaw, 1999; Dermady & Holloway, 1998; Emenheiser, Clay, & Palakurthi, 1998; Ferris, Berkson, & Harris, 2002; Freeland, 2000; Hinkin & Tracey, 2000; Powell, 1999; Tourism Division, 2002). This problem is complex with many different contributing factors. It is claimed that a number of characteristics commonly found in the tourism and hospitality industry
Address correspondence to Scott Richardson, Taylors University College, Level 3, Block C, Leisure Commerce Square, No. 9 Jalan PJS 8/9 46150 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia. E-mail: 179


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may inuence the skills shortage currently facing the industry in Australia (Baum, 2006; Brien, 2004; Deery & Shaw, 1999; Freeland, 2000; International Labour Ofce, 1989; Riley, Ladkin, & Szivas, 2002; Service Skills Victoria, 2005; Tourism Division, 2002). It is argued that these characteristics include a young transient workforce, low levels of pay and formal qualications, high levels of female, student, part-time and casual workers, a high proportion of low skilled jobs, a large proportion of hours worked outside normal business hours, a negative industry image in the eyes of potential employees, a large number of migrant staff, poor utilisation of student labour, and high levels of staff turnover (Baum, 2006; Brien, 2004; Deery & Shaw, 1999; Freeland, 2000; International Labour Ofce, 1989; Riley et al., 2002; Service Skills Victoria, 2005; Tourism Division, 2002). These characteristics all add to the complex problems associated with recruitment and retention of quality staff in the industry. The purpose of this report therefore is to examine how the perceptions and attitudes of students who are currently studying tourism/hospitality management at undergraduate level in Australia are shaped by working in the industry and what impact this has on students intentions of pursuing a career in the industry. A number of recent reports have highlighted the issue of labour and skills shortages in the tourism and hospitality industry worldwide (de Jong, 2008; International Society of Hospitality Consultants, 2006). At the 2006 International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC) Annual Conference held in Miami, Florida, ISHC members participated in a series of roundtable discussions to identify the top ten issues in the hospitality industry for 2007. The debate included in-depth discussions on over 100 different issues. Ultimately, the biggest issue found to be confronting the hospitality industry and the issue thought to have the greatest impact on the industry in 2007 was labour and skills shortages (International Society of Hospitality Consultants, 2006). It is claimed that once only an issue for a small number of regional, remote and niche markets, attracting and retaining qualied workers is becoming the largest concern for all hospitality businesses globally. The International Society of Hospitality Consultants (2006) claim that demography, wage levels, failure to adequately address worker satisfaction and a reputation for long hours and low pay are all contributing factors. Peter de Jong (de Jong, 2008), the President and CEO of the Pacic Asia Travel Association, agrees claiming that shortages of human resources was identied as one of the four mega forces which are re-shaping the demand for travel services. Mr. de Jong (de Jong, 2008, p. 3) claims that
the explosive growth of tourism infrastructure globally is placing incredible strains on the travel and tourism industry to deliver sufcient levels of suitably-skilled human resources to sustain this growth. In some cases the hardware is being built without concern for the software needed to run the operations. This is a huge, multi-dimensional dilemma

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covering issues such as recruitment, education, on-the-job training, language skills, performance management, retention, and the mobility of labour.

In the tourism and hospitality industry having a skilled, enthusiastic, and committed work-force is seen as vital to the success of rms in the industry (Kusluvan & Kusluvan, 2000). As most of the interactions between customers and clients in the industry are in the form of face-to-face exchange, with the service being purchased and consumed at the same time, the standard of service provided is of paramount concern. Employee attitudes, performance, and behaviour are key determinants of service quality which has a direct linkage to customer satisfaction and loyalty (Heskett, Jones, Loveman, Sasser, Jr., & Schlesinger, 1994). Bettencourt and Brown (1997, p. 39) agree, declaring that
contact employees contribute to service excellence by delivering on the promises of the rm, by creating a favourable image for the rm, by going beyond the call of duty for customers, by promoting the rms products and services and, in general, by providing better service than the competition.

In fact it has been argued that without employees having a positive attitude towards their work there is minimal chance for the organization to achieve customer satisfaction and loyalty (Rosentbluth, 1991; Zeithaml & Bitner, 1996). This is becoming even more evident as increasing international competition between rms and between destinations has led to organizations using employees as a means of gaining competitive advantage over rivals (Pfeffer, 2005). The education, training, skills, and motivation of staff play a key role in an organization gaining a competitive advantage, while their commitment to the industry or rm will determine if the company can sustain this competitive edge (Kusluvan & Kusluvan, 2000). An employees commitment to any industry will be determined by their perceptions and attitudes towards working in the industry as well as the types of jobs available in the industry. It is argued that this is particularly pertinent to tourism and hospitality as it has been reported that potential recruits have a negative image of working in the industry (Aksu & Koksal, 2005; Brien, 2004; Getz, 1994; Kusluvan & Kusluvan, 2000). By using staff as the mechanism to gain an advantage over competitors, it is therefore argued that it is essential that tourism and hospitality management graduates have a positive attitude towards working in the industry (Kusluvan & Kusluvan, 2000). These aforementioned claims highlight the importance in recruiting and retaining high quality and well trained staff, such as recent graduates of tourism and hospitality programs. It is thus important to understand how employers in the tourism and hospitality industry are utilising students, as


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casual and part-time workers, as well as in work-based learning programs, and how the utilisation of these employees is affecting decisions regarding pursuing or continuing careers in the industry. Therefore the main objectives of this study are: To ascertain students perceptions of the different dimensions that make up tourism and hospitality employment; Examine the inuence work experience has on these perceptions; and Determine current tourism and hospitality students commitment to a career in the industry.

There has been much written about the characteristics that Generation Y employees exhibit toward a career. Many denitions of a career can be found in the literature; Arthur, Hall, & Lawrence (1989) state that when considering many different denitions the common theme is that a career is the unfolding sequence of a persons work experiences over time. Other denitions of a career include; the pattern of work related experiences that span the course of a persons life (Robbins, Bergman, Stagg, & Coulter, 2006, p. 736); a career is a series of jobs arranged over time (Riley & Ladkin, 1994, p. 225); A career is the pattern of work-related experiences that span the course of a persons life (Greenhaus, 1987, p. 6). Ayres (2006) claims that traditionally there has been a career for life philosophy adopted by workers whereby workers will spend their entire working life working in one industry and in many cases, one organisation. This philosophy has in recent times, coinciding with Generation Y entering the workforce, been replaced by a more uncertain career structure, with employees frequently changing employers within their industry and many also pursuing work in different industries (Inkson, Arthur, & Pringle, 1999). Arthur and Rousseau (1996) state that in previous generations the responsibility for careers was shared between the employer and employee although in the current climate careers appear to be controlled by the employee. Ayres (2006) claims that it is for these reasons that emerging professions such as tourism and hospitality face many challenges in being able to successfully recruit and retain new employees. These challenges are amplied by the recent trends of companies becoming more globalised, with a tendency for companies to downsize and restructure their workforce. This has lead to company structures becoming increasingly at resulting in a difculty in dening careers and career structures (Inkson et al., 1999; Riley et al., 2002; Robbins et al., 2006). Ayres (2006) states that as the nature of careers is changing, two new terms have emerged to describe the current career: protean careers and boundaryless careers. Hall (2002) claims that the term protean careers

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is used for the individuals personal and work circumstances and will shape their career. Ayres (2006) claims that boundaryless careers refer to the fact that unlike in previous generations where it was the responsibility of the organisation to provide training, education, and planning for the individual, currently these responsibilities lie with the individual. This translates to the current generation of employees (Generation Y) not showing the same level of loyalty and commitment to an organisation as previous generations. Morton (2002) states that Generation Y employees show a tendency towards valuing equality in the workplace and they seek positions that offer reasonable wages and good opportunities for training. Morton (2002) also claims that they respect managers who empower workers and who are open and honest with employees. Martin (2005), who terms this generation as Yers, describes eight main characteristics shown by Generation Y towards their careers. These eight factors can be found in Table 1. Oliver (2006) claims that recent interest in the Generation Y worker has intensied in recent years and while generalisations are plentiful, he claims that the Generation Y worker is uninterested in a job for life, instead seeking exibility and work-life balance. Lloyd (2005) states that in the current economic climate, with skills shortages prevalent, the Generation Y employee

TABLE 1 Characteristics of Generation Y Employees Characteristic Self-reliant and independent Techno-savvy Have an urgent sense of immediacy Entrepreneurial Want increasing responsibility Have a get off my back attitude Seek exibility Description Yers were more likely to be brought up in a single parent family or a family where both parents worked than previous generations. This meant that many Yers were forced to fend for themselves from an early age. This is the rst generation to grow up with computers as an every day part of their lives. They want to use this technology to complete their work more effectively and efciently. Generation Y has a sense of urgency whereby they dont care about next month or next year, they only care about today. Todays young adults are starting their own businesses in record numbersfrom youth employment services to Web shows for teenswhile theyre still in school. Generation Y sees increasing responsibility not as a burden to be avoided but as a proving ground for their skills and talents. Generation Y requesteven demandmore responsibility. Every generation hates micromanagement, so its no surprise that this is one of Gen Yers pet peeves. They havent been taught to manage time for themselves. Generation Y seeks new experiences. They are looking for careers that offer them the opportunity to move from project to project, move between positions and departments frequently and they are looking for the opportunity to work in different locations. Generation Y is not looking for lifetime rather they will change careers several times during their working life.

Have adopted the free agency attitude

Source: Adapted from Martin (2005).


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knows that they can pick and choose their employer and they use this power to get what they want or else they will nd another job. Overall, Generation Y workers are seen to have much higher expectations of a job than previous generations including high expectations of pay, conditions, promotion, and advancement (Oliver, 2006). If an employer can not meet these expectations the Generation Y employee will pursue other avenues for employment. If employers can better understand the psyche of the Generation Y worker it will allow them to provide greater opportunities for them based on their ideals and expectations. Airey and Frontistis (1997, p. 157) comment that perhaps the most important reason for undertaking this type of study is that
there are so many questions which still need to be answered about the attitudes of young people to tourism careers. At a time when tourism is held out as one of the worlds major industries and sources of employment it would be timely to know more about what potential recruits think about it, in order to provide a basis for attracting the best possible work force.

Barron, Maxwell, Broadbridge, and Ogden (2007, p. 122) agree claiming that given the implications of this groups features on recruitment to, and retention in, the hospitality industry, in conjunction with management and development needs, it is important for the industry as a whole that this knowledge gap is addressed. These factors highlight the importance of studying the attitudes and perceptions of current students (Generation Y) towards working in the tourism and hospitality industry.

To measure the perceptions and attitudes of Generation Y students who are currently studying tourism/hospitality management at tertiary level in Australia, an online questionnaire which was derived from an instrument used by Kusluvan and Kusluvan (2000) in their study of Turkish tourism students. This instrument uses a multi-dimensional and multi-item attitude scale that was developed and used by Kusluvan and Kusluvan (2000). This scale consists of 9 different dimensions: (1) Nature of work, (2) Social status, (3) Industry-Person congeniality, (4) Physical working conditions, (5) Pay/fringe benets, (6) Promotion, (7) Co-workers, (8) Managers, and (9) Commitment to the industry. This scale has also been successfully tested and used by Aksu and Koksal (2005) in a study of tourism students attitudes and perceptions. As the population of interest for this research was undergraduate university students, the advantage of an online, Internet-based survey is that most students use the Internet on a daily basis for email, class registrations, lecture notes, tutorial information, and research. As students are quite used to using

Generation Ys Perceptions and Attitudes Towards a Career


the Internet it may be argued that they would prefer an Internet survey over a traditional mail survey or telephone interview as it can be incorporated into their normal day and can be easily completed online (Beebe, Harrison, Anderson, Fulkerson, & Mika, 1997; Schaefer & Dillman, 1998; Sills & Song, 2002). In fact, Sills and Song (2002) claim that for populations that possess technical knowledge, such as students, the cost and ease of conducting this type of survey, as well as the speed and ease of data cleaning and analysis, this form of delivery method is favourable. Purposive sampling was chosen as the preferred method of nding respondents to the online survey for this research question. The type of purposive sampling used is homogeneous sampling, as this survey was interested in exploring the attitudes and perceptions of one particular group that has similar characteristics, to describe that particular group in depth (i.e., undergraduate tourism and hospitality students) (Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia, n.d.). The rst step in the process was to obtain permission from Australian tertiary institutions to send the surveys to their students. In total eight tertiary institutions agreed for their students to take part in this research. The second step involved the universities sending an informed consent email explaining the purpose of this research, with attached URL hyperlink to all relevant students. The nal step was to send a follow-up email, to remind respondents to complete and submit the survey, one week and then one month, after the informed consent email to promote higher response rates (Duncan, 1979; Heberlein & Baumgartner, 1978; Kanuk & Berenson, 1975; Salant & Dillman, 1994). Prior to sending the survey out to potential respondents, the survey was pre-tested on a group of 80 undergraduate tourism and hospitality students at Grifth University. A pilot test was conducted to test the relevance and applicability of the instrument in an Australian context. This helped revise and rene the questionnaire for this survey. All the opinions collected from the participants about the contents and wordings of the questionnaire were reviewed again by the researcher and his supervisors. Of the 79 statements used in the attitude scale, 13 statements were removed as they were seen by a number of respondents as not being relevant in an Australian context, leaving 66 items in the nine dimensions. Approximately 1,500 potential respondents at the eight tertiary institutions were sent an email asking them to complete the online survey. In total 379 completed, useable surveys were submitted providing a response rate for this survey of 25.27%. Survey results were received from the online survey program in Microsoft Excel spreadsheet format and exported to the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences 15.0 for data analysis. To test for internal consistency and reliability, the computation of Cronbachs alpha was used. Nunnally (1978) suggests that reliabilities of 0.50 to 0.60 sufce for early stages of basic research. The reliability values for most


S. Richardson TABLE 2 Reliability Analysis Dimension Nature of work Social status Pay/fringe benets Industry-person congeniality Physical working conditions Promotion opportunities Co-workers Managers Commitment to the industry Total linear Combination Cronbachs Alpha .678 .692 .776 .704 .388 .726 .554 .512 .845 .636 No. items 8 6 5 5 5 9 6 10 12 66

scales exceeded the 0.50 threshold Nunnally suggests. Only one of the scales, physical working conditions did not meet the 0.50 threshold that Nunnally suggested. The total scale reliability or item linear combination was 0.636 (see Table 2).

RESULTS Characteristics of Respondents

Section 1 of the survey was used to obtain demographic information about the respondents. As can be seen in Table 3 almost two thirds (66%) of the
TABLE 3 Demographics Variable Gender Age Category Male Female 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 27 Grifth University Southern Cross University Qld Institute of Business and Technology Victoria University University of Technology Sydney University of Western Sydney University of Canberra Edith Cowan University Sample%a 34.0 66.0 46.2 23.7 20.1 7.1 1.3 0.8 0.5 0.3 30.6 12.4 11.3 6.9 11.3 8.2 9.0 10.3


Note: N = 379. aAdjusted (valid) percentages excluding missing observations.

Generation Ys Perceptions and Attitudes Towards a Career TABLE 4 Demographics (cont.) Variable Credit points (10 credit points awarded for successful completion of a course) Category 080 90160 170240 250+ Full-time Part-time Domestic International


Sample%a 57.5 23.5 15.6 3.4 93.9 6.1 66.0 34.0

Basis of enrollment Type of student

Note: N = 379. aAdjusted (valid) percentages excluding missing observations.

respondents were female with the majority of respondents (90.0%) aged between 18 and 20 years. It also shows that students from eight different institutions covering Queensland, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, and Western Australia completed the survey. The largest number of respondents were enrolled at Grifth University (30.6%), followed by Southern Cross University (12.4%), University of Queensland (11.3%), and University of Technology Sydney (11.3%). Table 4 shows that more than half of the respondents (57.5%) indicated that they were rst year students, having completed 80 credit points (cp) or less, 23.5% were second year having completed between 90 and 160 cp, 15.6% were third year having completed between 170 and 240 cp with the remaining 3.4% completing more than 240 cp. The vast majority of respondents stated that they are currently enrolled at their institution on a full-time basis (93.9%) and identied themselves as being domestic students (66%). Respondents were then asked whether tourism and hospitality was their rst choice of study area, with the majority (82.8%) claiming that it was their rst choice. Some of the other areas respondents claimed to be their rst choice included communications, law, physiotherapy, exercise science, education, psychology, and international business. As can be seen in Table 5, respondents were then asked what they regarded as their major eld of study. The greatest number of respondents claimed their major was Hotel Management (43.8%), followed by Tourism Management (28.8%), Event Management (15%), Hospitality Management (8.7%), and Travel (2.9%), whilst one respondent claimed Club Management was their major.

Perceptions and Attitudes of Undergraduate Tourism and Hospitality Students Towards a Career in the Industry
This section of the survey was used to try to gain an understanding of the perceptions and attitudes of the students to different aspects of working in


S. Richardson TABLE 5 Demographics (cont.) Variable First choice of study Major eld of study Category Yes No Tourism management Hotel management Event management Club management Hospitality management Travel Other Sample%a 82.8 17.2 28.8 43.8 15.0 0.3 8.7 2.9 0.5

Note: N = 379. aAdjusted (valid) percentages excluding missing observations.

the industry as well as the students commitment to pursuing a career in the industry. This highlights the results of each of the 9 dimensions examined can be found in Appendix 1. The study has found that there are a few dimensions where students have positive perceptions of a career in the industry, while there are a number of dimensions were students have negative perceptions. These negative perceptions have been found to inuence students commitment to the industry.

The Nature of Work

Most respondents nd working in the tourism and hospitality industry interesting (85.5%) and believe that there are always new things to learn each day (75.1%). While this is the case, the majority of respondents nd working in the industry stressful (59.0%), believe the working hours are too long (56.7%), and the hours are unsuitable to lead a normal life (52.4%). Many respondents also claim that family life is negatively affected by the unusual hours worked (44.1%) and feel that nding stable employment in the industry is difcult due to the inuence seasonality has on employment (37.1%).

Social Status
When investigating the social status dimension, it was found that two-thirds of respondents (66.7%) claim that their families are proud of their decision to pursue a career in the tourism and hospitality industry. More then half state that they talk to friends and family with pride about their decision to pursue this type of career (53.6%) and claim that working in tourism and hospitality is a benecial and important job (54.7%). While this is the case more than one-third of respondents believe tourism and hospitality workers are not valued in society (35.4%). This is further highlighted by the fact that many respondents believe that the public perception is that tourism and hospitality graduates will become waiters (41.2%).

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Industry-Person Congeniality
The vast majority of respondents (82.0%) believe that their personality and character ts well with the types of jobs available in the industry and most believe that they will get an opportunity to use their skills and abilities working in the industry (89.1%). Most respondents also claim that they get pleasure out of seeing satised customers (87.6%). One interesting nding in the industry-person congeniality dimension is that almost three-quarters (74.0%) of respondents nd pleasure working in the industry with only a small percentage (6.6%) claiming not to nd pleasure. This seems to contradict the fact that almost one third of respondents claim they will not work in the industry after graduation. This indicates that while many respondents may actually enjoy the work that is on offer in the industry there are other factors affecting the working conditions in the industry that has inuenced their decision not to pursue a career in the industry.

Physical Working Conditions

Physical working conditions in the industry are generally seen as good, with two-thirds (65.2%) of respondents agreeing with this statement. While this is true there is some concern among respondents with regards to working conditions with almost half (42.8%) of the respondents stating that it is a very noisy environment in which to work, while more than one-third (34.8%) claim the risk of work accidents in the industry is high.

This study has found that the majority of respondents are unhappy with the pay levels within the industry with more than half (57.7%) of the respondents claiming that pay levels for most jobs in the industry was low with only a small number (15.6%) stating they are happy with the pay levels in the industry. Almost half (49.5%) of the respondents also state that the level of fringe benets offered by employers is low and considering the long hours worked, almost three-quarters (74.1%) of respondents believe pay levels should be increased. Only a very small percentage (5.6%) believe the current level of pay is sufcient for the number of hours worked. Almost three-quarters of respondents (74.0%) also agree that the level of penalty rates paid by employers should be increased due to the unusual nature of the hours worked. From the information provided above it is clear that the pay and benets offered by tourism and hospitality employers are seen as a major issue for students considering a career in the industry.

Promotion Opportunities
It was found that respondents views of promotions in the industry are fairly negative. Less than half of all respondents (41.2%) believe that promotions


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are based on merit, while one-third (33.3%) claim promotions are not merit based. Promotions are also seen as being unsystematic (35.1%) and more than one third of respondents (33.7%) are unhappy with the promotion opportunities on offer. Almost half of the respondents (48.3%) claim that the opportunity to be promoted to management level is limited, with a similar number (47.5%) stating that promotions are not handled in a fair manner. More than half (54.1%) also believe that promotions are based on who you know rather than ability and almost half (43.8) state that they cannot see a clear career path in the industry. Less than half (47.5%) believe academic qualications are taken into account when applying for promotions. These ndings indicate that there is a certain level of uncertainty among respondents with regards to their promotion opportunities and paths they need to take to build a career in the industry.

Co-Workers and Managers

Respondents are generally happy with their co-workers in the industry. The majority of respondents believe team spirit can be found in the industry (68.3%), it is easy to make friends with co-workers (78.8%), and that there is co-operation shown between staff (78.1%). As can be seen from these results, one of the main benets respondents nd of a job in tourism and hospitality is the relationship they have with their colleagues. These relationships will have a large impact on whether or not the students pursue a career in the industry after graduation. While respondents seem to be happy with their relationships with coworkers, this does not appear to be the case when it comes to relationships with their managers as almost two-thirds of respondents (60.7%) claim there is not a good relationship between managers and staff in the industry. More than half of the respondents believed that managers did not act in a fair manner when dealing with staff (56.5%), and that managers did not reward staff for doing a good job (50.6%). Similarly, just under half declared that managers do not act respectfully towards employees (46.7%) and that managers did not put great effort into ensuring employees were satised with their jobs (48.2%). When assessing their managers level of education, again more than half of the respondents (54.6%) state that most managers do not have an academic background in tourism or hospitality, while almost twothirds (60.1%) state that managers are jealous of graduates with academic qualications. This study also found that respondents believe that managers within the tourism and hospitality industry do not empower their employees, with more than half the respondents claiming that managers do not delegate authority in order for employees to perform their jobs in a more effective way (50.9%) and that managers do not ensure employees participate in decisions affecting their jobs (54.3%). There has been much written about the importance of

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empowerment in ensuring a healthy and productive workplace. In recent years, scholars such as Donavan (1994), Lashley (1995), and Chow, Lob, Sha, and Hong (2006) have written about the benets to hospitality organisations of empowering employees. Jones and Davies (1991) claim that the idea of empowering employees is to encourage them to be responsible for their own performance and its development. Ripley and Ripley (1993) believe that empowerment will also encourage staff to best utilize their skills and strive to increase their skill set. It is apparent in this study that tourism and hospitality managers are not empowering their staff to make decisions relating to their jobs.

Commitment to the Industry

The dimension dealing with respondents commitment to the industry is particularly interesting as it explores the likelihood of students pursuing a career in the industry. From the results gathered in this study, it is difcult to argue that the majority of respondents are committed to a career in the industry. One of the major ndings from this dimension is the fact that almost half the respondents (44.6%) claim that the disadvantages of working in the industry outweigh the advantages with only one-third (33.8%) claiming that the positives outweigh the negatives. Other responses to the commitment to industry dimension include 41.4% of respondents claiming they are unhappy to have chosen tourism or hospitality as a vocation path, and 37.7% stating that it was a big mistake to choose the tourism and hospitality industry as a career path. Almost onethird of respondents would not want their child studying or working in the industry (30.1%), would not recommend a job in the industry to their friends and relatives (33.1%), and claim that they would only work in high paid jobs in the industry (33.2%). The most disturbing ndings from this dimension include the fact that one-third (33.3%) of all respondents claim that they will denitely not work in the industry after graduation. Also, only 18.3% of respondents claim that they are not planning to work in any other industry, while more than half (58.3%) the respondents claim they are considering working in other industries. Finally, 41.7% of respondents see their professional careers in other industries, while only 36.7% of respondents see their professional career in the tourism and hospitality industry. These ndings highlight the problems facing tourism and hospitality employers in recruiting and retaining these Generation Y graduates.

A number of interesting results have been noted in this study. The main ndings concur with those of Barron and Maxwell (1993), Getz (1994),


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Kusluvan and Kusluvan (2000), and Pavesic and Brymer (1990) who all found that having direct experience working in the tourism and hospitality industry may cause students to acquire negative views towards pursuing a career in the industry. Possibly the most alarming nding is that overall more than one-third of respondents claim that they will not work in the tourism and hospitality industry after graduation. Even more concerning is the fact that a staggering 42.4% of respondents with work experience claimed they would not pursue a career in the industry, with almost all (92.6%) citing the experience of working in the industry as the main reason for this decision. This contrasts the fact that just 4.4% of those with no work experience claim they will not work in the industry. This clearly shows that working in the industry does have a major negative impact on respondents intentions to pursue careers in the industry. Can an industry, already facing an acute skills shortage, lose more than 40% of their highly skilled and trained graduates and still remain viable?


Over the next decade, the growth of positions in the tourism and hospitality industry in Australia and around the world has been widely reported. If we take the standpoint that students should be encouraged to stay within their trained industry these ndings suggest that industry and educators must work together to solve employment shortfalls by recruiting and retaining qualied graduates. This highlights the need for the industry to adopt tactics and strategies aimed at ensuring that potential employees, i.e., Generation Y employees are not leaving the industry or even failing to enter the industry upon graduation. It is clear that there are a number of areas, particularly pay, promotion opportunities, and the relationship between respondents and their managers, that the industry must work on to ensure students are receiving positive experiences while they work during their degree. Unless the industry can offer higher wages and improve career paths for its graduating students, the industry will continue to lose these highly skilled and trained employees. It is not being argued that resolving the issues related to salary levels, relationships with managers and career paths are the universal remedy to solve this problem; working hours and job security are also seen as vital elements in ensuring student/graduate satisfaction with the industry. Davidson and Timo (2006) point out that the dilemma facing the industry is that skilled employees are keen to advance. This study has found that Generation Y employees are also eager for rapid career advancement. Traditionally the tourism and hospitality industry has had limited internal career opportunities, which imposes a ceiling on career growth and is one of the major factors affecting staff exit behaviour. This study has found that

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employers need to modify their training programs and more clearly dene their career paths for this new generation of employees.


Tourism and hospitality educators can also assist in this by ensuring that Generation Y employees are well-informed on the paths and training available to them and the time it will take to progress up the corporate ladder. If tourism and hospitality employers and educators do not focus on these issues and try to gain a better understanding of the characteristics displayed by the Generation Y employee they will continue to lose these highly motivated and highly skilled employees.

Limitations of the Research

A few limitations associated with the research must be addressed. Firstly, students from Grifth University are over represented in the sample. This is due to the fact that this is the researchers own institution, therefore greater access to students was possible. Non-response bias is another issue which must be considered. Again due to resource constraints no formal investigation of non-response was carried out. However it would seem probable that students with strong feelings about these issues, either positive or negative, would be more likely to complete the survey than those with no strong feelings.

Future Research Directions

This study has uncovered a major area of concern for both educators and industry in relation to tourism and hospitality employment, on which further research is required. Future research in this area could focus on the impact that the student focused training programs being offered by some of the organisations interviewed are having on students perceptions of careers in the industry. This study could be a longitudinal study following students as they progress through their degrees as well as the training programs. Such an investigation could also examine the pedagogical aspects of such programs, which has been beyond the scope of this thesis.

This research is supported by funding from the Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre, established by the Australian Commonwealth Government.


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Generation Ys Perceptions and Attitudes Towards a Career


APPENDIX 1: STUDENTS ATTITUDES TOWARDS DIMENSIONS OF WORKING IN THE INDUSTRY Factor Nature of work 1. I nd jobs in the Tourism and Hospitality (T&H) industry interesting 2. Most jobs in the T&H industry are low skilled 3. Jobs in T&H are stressful 4. Working hours are too long in the T&H industry 5. Family life is negatively affected due to the nature of the work 6. There is always something new to learn each day in T&H jobs 7. Working hours are not suitable for a regular life in the T&H industry 8. It is very difcult to nd a stable job in T&H due to seasonality Social status 1. My family is proud of my profession in T&H 2. Working in T&H is a respected (prestigious) vocation 3. It is a widespread belief that those that study T&H will be waiters 4. Working in T&H is regarded as an important and benecial service 5. I think that those working in the T&H industry are not valued in society 6. I talk to my relatives and friends with pride about my job in T&H Industry-person congeniality 1. My character ts with the industry 2. I can use my skills and abilities in T&H 3. I feel like a slave working in T&H 4. I get pleasure working in T&H 5. I like to see satised customers Physical working conditions 1. Working conditions are generally good 2. The working environment is not very clean 3. There is a high risk of work accidents 4. Employee dining halls are in good condition 5. The working environment is very noisy Pay/benets 1. I think the pay is low for most jobs in T&H 1 (%) 2 (%) 3 (%) 4 (%) 5 (%) Mean 26.6 5.6 15.2 23.2 18.6 22.5 18.9 11.4 24.5 9.5 10.6 10.6 8.2 20.1 34.0 36.2 5 .4 21.4 49.5 9.5 2.6 5.5 4.5 9.8 19.0 58.9 21.7 43.8 33.5 25.5 52.6 33.5 25.7 42.2 33.0 30.6 44.1 27.2 43.5 48.0 52.9 19.8 52.6 38.1 55.7 15.3 29.3 33.5 33.0 38.7 9.5 18.5 25.0 29.6 35.8 13.3 29.5 35.2 25.9 31.9 16.1 24.5 21.9 20.8 12.5 6.3 21.7 19.4 9.0 24.0 25.6 33.2 50.1 33.8 26.7 4.5 44.4 14.1 12.1 18.3 11.1 15.7 24.1 6.6 24.0 30.1 20.0 31.4 14.5 4.2 4.2 40.7 6.1 3.2 10.0 48.5 29.6 10.8 21.6 14.0 0.5 9.8 1.9 1.6 2.1 0.5 2.4 3.7 0.8 1.6 12.7 0.8 11.3 1.1 1.3 0.4 12.4 0.5 0.3 0.8 7.9 2.4 1.1 1.8 1.6 1.93 SD .765

3.31 1.087 2.44 .972 2.35 1.017 2.60 1.052 2.15 .912

2.49 1.043 2.83 1.037 2.17 2.75 .901 .977

3.04 1.240 2.56 .953

3.11 1.166 2.33 1.91 1.79 .989 .864 .760

3.35 1.093 2.12 .829 1.67 .791 2.37 3.44 2.94 2.70 2.73 .820 .933 .951 .761 .969

2.40 1.000

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APPENDIX 1: STUDENTS ATTITUDES TOWARDS DIMENSIONS OF WORKING IN THE INDUSTRY (CONTINUED) Factor 2. Considering long hours worked pay should be higher 3. The level of fringe benets is low 4. More penalty rates should be paid 5. Duty meals is an important in the salary package Promotion Opportunities 1. Promotion is based on merit 2. Promotion opportunities are satisfactory 3. Promotions are not handled fairly 4. The opportunity to get promoted to a management position is limited 5. Number of years worked are considered 6. Academic qualications are considered 7. Many promotions are who you know not what you know 8. Promotions are unsystematic 9. Lack of clear career paths Co-workers 1. There is no team spirit 2. There is cooperation amongst staff 3. Employees are generally uneducated 4. I can make friends easily with others 5. Most staff are motivated 6. Employees without degrees are jealous of graduates Managers 1. Managers delegate authority 2. Most managers have no educational background in T&H 3. Managers do not reward employees 4. Managers behave respectfully towards employees 5. Managers are jealous of graduates 6. Managers allow staff to make decisions 7. The relationship between managers and staff is poor 8. Managers provide vocational training 9. Managers behave fairly 10. Managers dont put great effort into ensuring staff are satised Commitment to industry 1. Disadvantages of working in T&H outweigh advantages 2. I am happy to have chosen T&H as a career 1 (%) 2 (%) 3 (%) 4 (%) 5 (%) Mean 30.2 15.1 30.7 34.1 9.5 6.1 11.1 9.2 10.6 7.4 18.2 7.1 13.7 2 .9 15.8 3.7 19.8 7.7 8.7 12.4 22.4 18.7 6.6 27.8 6.6 25.3 6.9 8.2 18.8 16.4 16.6 43.9 34.4 43.3 42.0 31.7 34.8 36.4 39.1 53.2 40.1 35.9 28.0 30.1 8.7 62.3 22.8 59.0 35.1 18.5 19.0 32.2 31.9 21.4 32.3 18.7 35.4 42.5 17.2 29.4 28.2 23.0 20.4 38.1 21.7 18.7 25.5 25.3 37.7 34.0 27.2 35.4 32.2 51.9 38.4 20.1 16.9 28.5 17.5 30.0 33.8 17.7 22.7 26.2 25.3 18.2 20.4 17.9 39.5 18.1 24.0 21.6 19.0 4.8 11.3 5.0 4.9 22.2 20.8 13.2 17.4 8.2 15.8 13.2 11.9 16.4 53.8 4.7 36.0 3.4 23.5 31.7 28.2 19.8 20.8 24.8 14.6 22.4 15.3 10.0 30.8 24.6 28.8 22.4 0.8 1.1 0.3 0.3 11.1 12.9 1.6 0.3 0.8 1.3 0.5 1.1 1.4 14.5 0.3 9.0 0.3 3.7 7.4 22.7 2.9 2.4 21.9 7.1 31.9 6.1 1.1 25.7 3.2 5.0 19.0 2.02 2.49 2.02 1.95 SD .877 .919 .866 .866

2.94 1.167 3.00 1.149 2.58 2.60 2.35 2.64 2.42 2.72 2.62 .909 .889 .809 .882 .952 .805 .961

3.68 .926 2.11 .728 3.24 1.020 2.05 .730

2.80 1.002 3.11 1.066 3.30 1.339 2.49 1.128 2.56 1.088 3.34 1.221 2.41 1.233 3.54 1.289 2.41 1.193 2.56 .806

3.49 1.268 2.64 1.137 2.78 1.174 2.75 1.383

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Generation Ys Perceptions and Attitudes Towards a Career


APPENDIX 1: STUDENTS ATTITUDES TOWARDS DIMENSIONS OF WORKING IN THE INDUSTRY (CONTINUED) Factor 3. I would not want my child studying or working in T&H 4. I would like to work in T&H after graduation 5. I would do any job in T&H after graduation 6. It is denite I will not work in T&H after graduation 7. I will work in T&H only if I become a manager 8. It was a big mistake to choose T&H as a career path 9. I would recommend T&H jobs to friends and relatives 10. I would only work in high paid jobs 11. I do not plan to work in any other industry 12. I see my career in T&H 1 (%) 2 (%) 3 (%) 4 (%) 5 (%) Mean 7.1 21.9 8.7 13.2 4.2 15.6 11.6 6.3 5.6 12.1 23.0 26.9 21.2 20.1 14.0 22.2 34.7 26.9 12.7 24.5 32.5 13.0 25.9 17.9 23.2 10.8 20.6 27.7 23.3 21.7 25.3 24.0 31.2 26.8 46.7 24.8 19.3 33.8 37.8 26.4 12.1 14.2 13.0 21.9 11.9 26.6 13.8 5.3 20.6 15.3 SD

3.12 1.114 2.73 1.449 3.19 1.167 3.24 1.349 3.48 1.011 3.25 1.450 2.89 1.244 3.05 1.035 3.55 1.118 3.08 1.267

Note: N = 379. 1 = Strongly agree; 5 = strongly disagree. Adjusted (valid) percentages excluding missing observations.

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