A tertiary education is vital to enter the hospitality industry


In world hospitality terms, Africa is the final frontier for rapid development and expansion, with staggering opportunities for development.

According to an African Development Bank estimate, Africa’s population has grown to over one billion since 2010, with the middle class now 350-million strong. It is this expanding segment of potential travellers that presents a major expansion opportunity for the hospitality industry.

But it’s not only local tourist numbers that are growing. In recent years, international travel to Africa has expanded immensely. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, the continent welcomed 18.5 million foreign travellers in 2021, up from 16.2 million in 2020. Of that figure, 6.1 million made their way to North Africa and 12.3 million went to sub-Saharan Africa. Furthermore, the UNWTO showed that January 2022 experienced a 51 percent improvement in international tourist arrivals compared to January 2021 and it is estimated that Africa will receive 134 million arrivals by 2030.

With this increase in visitor numbers, comes a proliferation of hotels, resorts, lodges and restaurants and the need to staff them with properly trained people filling all sorts of positions – from MDs to managers, front of house, HR, marketing and PR professionals and more.

Says Marius Stols of The IIE’s School of Hospitality & Service Management: “There is a huge need in Africa for academically trained hospitality professionals particularly when one considers that many executive positions in the African hospitality industry are not filled by those from the continent.

“Recently a training manager at one of the largest hotel groups in the world told me that none of the executive managers of their Africa hotels were from Africa. A big contributor to this disparity was that there were no degree qualified managers available from Africa.”

While it is still possible to build a career in hospitality without a degree or diploma, increasingly employers are being more selective and recognise a degree as an indication of competence, signalling that students have learnt about and worked in the industry (through internships) and have the capability to contribute, learn and grow, often more rapidly than those without a degree. A bachelor’s degree provides students with knowledge, skills and abilities in most aspects of hospitality operations, on which they can build when they start working fulltime. Graduates understand the inter-relationship and interdependencies between various functional areas. They also learn how to analyse and research workplace issues, solve problems, make decisions, and work in teams.

“Our Bachelor of Hotel Management (BOHM) speaks directly to this industry need,” says Stols. “In addition, the hospitality qualifications not only prepare students for the hospitality industry but provides them with a wide range of service-oriented skills and trains them to think, plan and execute with the consumer in mind. A hospitality qualification does not bind one to a single industry either. The BOHM is, in essence, a business degree with a hospitality foundation.”

Says Sindile Xulu, CEO of TIA360 (Tourism Investment Africa), a platform to mobilise and stimulate investment in Africa’s tourism: “It is vital that Africa’s hospitality industry is supported and staffed by professionals from the continent because they are often more culturally aware and sensitive to the needs of local customers. They are also often the first point of introduction to their country for overseas guests, so they are better positioned to offer advice and demonstrate local hospitality.

“Investing in a human capital position and supporting the current talent with more relevant knowledge to inform improvement of products and destination and local knowledge is also key,” adds Xulu.

Rene Hill, MD of The IIE School of Hospitality & Service Management concludes: “By studying hospitality management, students acquire tangible in-demand skills that employers look for in candidates, and not only the upper-level management skills and the operation processes in hospitality, but also marketable skills such as teamwork, leadership, design thinking, finance and budgeting and marketing. Hospitality training also helps develop the communication skills employers expect their employees to use with customers and amongst themselves in any professional hospitality workplace.” The IIE School of Hospitality & Service Management’s Johannesburg campus is located at 3 Keyes Ave, Rosebank, Gauteng and its Cape Town campus at Quadrant Building, 146 Campground Road, Newlands, 7700.

For more information on The IIE School of Hospitality & Service Management visit www.iiehsm.com or contact via phone at +27 86 111 2433 or email info@iiehsm.com

*Pics Supplied

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