The Effect Of Working Experience On Lebanese University Education Essay

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There is a great difference between the studying phase and the training or working phase for the Lebanese Hospitality students. While studying, the student is exposed to thesis, theories and ideas of how to work in the hospitality field. However, when subjected to the real life experience of training or working in the hospitality field, the student is faced with challenges.

The purpose of this study was to examine differences in the perceptions of internships between Lebanese Hospitality students studying and working in the field. The study explored how students and practitioners differed in their view regarding the role of the internship experience; the role of the internship agency, the intern's abilities; and factors in selecting an internship.


College enrollments have continued on an upward climb for decades, as more and more people recognize the value of a college education, especially the tangible value of the diploma in the marketplace. The past few decades have witnessed growing diversity in higher education, but with that diversity we also see dramatic changes in how students are funding their college educations. Adult degree seekers, first generation students, students of color, and students from low-income backgrounds have become a mainstay in the growing mix in college today. This new mix challenges the persistent image of the of the "traditional," direct-from-high school, white, middle-class college student on a residential campus, who may work part time, is dependent on parents, and graduates within four years. In fact this picture represents less than 27% of college students today (Choy 2002).

The proportion of students taking employment during term time has risen sharply in recent years. This phenomenon reflects the profound changes of funding policy in higher education as well as the contemporary economic environment (Curtis, 2007). Academic investigation of this topic has been increasing, with the focus being mostly on domestic students in Western countries (Broadbridge & Swanson, 2005).

Meanwhile, the growth of international student numbers has dramatically changed tertiary student structure in most developed nations (Ward & Masgoret, 2004). Working while studying in the host country has become an essential part of the overall experience of being an international student. Given the importance, both politically and financially, of international students to many education-exporting nations, it is surprising how little academic interest has been taken in international students. It is also risky to presume that an international student employee would behave in exactly the same way as a domestic student employee.

The Effects of Part-Time Work on School Students

The effects on students of working in a part-time job while at school constitute the subject of this report. Although it is widely recognized that many students are employed part-time out of school hours, little is known about the consequences of such employment. It has been shown that around one quarter to one third of Australian secondary school students regularly hold part-time jobs during the school year (Robinson, 1996). That proportion varies somewhat with age and year level at school, and by gender.

Higher percentages of males work at earlier ages, but by the post compulsory years, this is reversed, with considerably greater percentages of females (40 per cent) than males (30 per cent) in part-time employment. The average time spent in those jobs is generally in the order of eight or nine hours per week - among Year 9 students (in 1989, 1990 and in 1995) it was eight hours, while among 17 year olds in 1992 it was nine hours per week (Robinson, 1996, 1997).

To provide a context when considering the influence of part-time employment on secondary school students, it is useful to examine the types of jobs in which those students are involved. In this report the investigation of the consequences of such employment encompasses both the subjective opinions of students who have part-time jobs, and the more readily demonstrable and objectively measured effects over a number of years (Robinson, 1996, 1997).. The latter include effects on school completion, on end of school achievement as indicated by final year results, and on labor market outcomes in the initial post-school years.

Findings reported here are based on data from the 1975 birth cohort of the Youth in Transition project. The discussion of students' views of their part-time jobs, both their motivation for working, and their perceptions of how their job has affected them - focus on full-time secondary school students who were aged 17 in 1992 (Robinson, 1996, 1997).

The potential impact of part-time employment on academic progress is explored through analyses of those students' results gained in Year 12 in 1992 or 1993, and the likelihood of the completion of Year 12 by age 19 in 1994. The latter age is also taken as the reference point for an examination of the influence of employment while at school on a number of post-school outcomes (Robinson, 1996, 1997). For young people who were labor market participants at age 19, these outcomes were the likelihood of being unemployed, as well as the extent of unemployment experienced since leaving school, and for those who were employed in 1994, the relationship between previous in-school work experience and job type and income at that later date (Robinson, 1996, 1997).

School Students' Experience of Part-time Work

The existing research literature provides some fairly limited evidence about how

Australian school students feel about their part-time jobs - why they want to work in the first place, how they fare as workers, and the consequences that they perceive of having a job.

Shedding some light on these questions, previous studies have clearly identified students' desire to earn money as their primary motivation for working (Bentley & O'Neil, 1984; Coventry et al, 1984; Hobbs & Grant, 1991; Nolan & Hagen, 1989). Those studies have also claimed, though based on less evidence, that a majority of students were satisfied with their part-time jobs (Murphy, 1986a, 1986b), and have shown that the effects of working were generally seen by students to be positive rather than negative, with personal development, especially enhanced confidence, independence and responsibility, being the greatest benefit (Coventry et al, 1984; Munro, 1989; Wilson et al, 1987).

Nature and characteristics of term time Employment

Student employment is not a new concept and working during vacations (e.g. the university summer holiday) has been a traditional means for students to clear debts or build up savings (Ford et al., 1995). There are two major changes that have happened in recent years. First, the competition for vacation employment has become more intense.

Because of increasing financial pressure while they are at university, more students are deciding to participate in temporary work. Secondly, due to the generally low wages and limited duration, the income from vacation employment is insufficient to satisfy actual financial needs. As a result, the number of students working during term time has grown steadily over the past two decades in most developed countries (Barron, 2006; Watts & Pickering, 2000).

Many studies have identified patterns of student term time employment in terms of position titles, working hours, and wage rates. Data from various surveys has indicated that the majority of undergraduates are employed in the hospitality and retailing industries. The most common jobs include shop sales assistants, supermarket checkout operators and bar- and wait-staff (Curtis & Lucas, 2001).

The high concentration of employment within the service industries, regardless of students' academic background, is identified by most existing literature, (Broadbridge, Maxwell & Ogden, 2007; Ford et al., 1995; Smith & Taylor, 1997). Only a minority of students report that their part-time jobs are related to their studies at university (Hunt, et al., 2004).

Notably, the situation is different for those who study hospitality or tourism majors. The practical element of their study makes their term time employment in hotels or catering establishments more career oriented (Barron & Anastasiadou, 2009).

The weekly working hours for students vary with different surveys. The average length of work is between 11 to 20 hours per week (Buie, 2001; Silver & Silver, 1997; Sorensen & Winn, 1993). A minority of students report up to 30 hours per week (Taylor & Smith, 1998). Moreover, some students indicated that their working hours change from week to week, depending on variations of business demand (Lucas, 1997; Lucas & Ralston, 1997).

The typical hourly rate for term time employment is around the legal minimum wage level. This is not surprising given that the general types of jobs taken are unskilled and with a high turnover rate (Ford et al., 1995). Employers in service industries need cheap and flexible labor in order to obtain reasonable profitability and students who choose to work during term time are well suited to this requirement (Curtis & Lucas,

2001). Tam and Morrison (2005) find that in China, some students value the working experience itself rather more than the actual income from working. Therefore, the wage is not the most important concern in the short term.

Interestingly, most academics have rather negative feelings about 'poor pay'. Some seriously question the financial worth of term time employment, especially when the evidence shows that students' academic performance is affected by these poorly paid jobs (Carney, McNeish & McColl, 2005).

Overall, the existing literature has thoroughly investigated the nature and characteristics of student term time employment. These papers mainly focus on domestic student populations in Western countries. Some studies have included a small number of international students in their samples; however, no specific investigation has been conducted for this student group. The reason might be due to the small percentage of international students in the study sample (Moreau & Leathwood, 2006).

Reasons for Working

The question of what prompts students to take on a part-time job while they are still at school has been investigated in a number of previous research studies, and these have revealed various overlapping reasons. The wish to earn money was the most widely cited reason (Bentley & O'Neil, 1984; Coventry et al, 1984; Hobbs & Grant, 1991; Latty, 1989; Munro, 1989; Nolan & Hagen, 1989). A second and related reason was the desire for independence - this could be seen as financial independence, although it could also mean, from a student's perspective, increased personal autonomy, gained as a result of spending time away from the normal constraints of family and school. A third reason for working that was endorsed by students was the longer-term one of acquiring experience that would help them in the future, particularly in getting a job (Nolan & Hagen, 1989).

Such experience only rarely involved specific technical skills pertaining to the job, but more commonly it was used as a broad term which encompassed many aspects of working - things that in themselves were of benefit to the student, regardless of their efficacy in leading to future employment. That is, students believed that a part-time job provided them with the opportunity to develop a range of social and personal skills, such as communication skills and self-confidence through working and dealing with other people, and a sense of competence and responsibility that came from turning up to work on time and carrying out designated tasks (Coventry et al, 1984; Munro, 1989; Wilson et al, 1987).

Other reasons for working that were canvassed by researchers, although not supported to any extent by students, were the notion of a job as an activity to avoid boredom, or as a useful contribution to the community, and the influence of peers on the decision to work (Bentley & O'Neil, 1984; Dalziel, 1989; Hobbs & Grant, 1991). The emphasis in these previous studies was on the perceived benefits of having a job - any job - and not on the job itself. Many researchers were fairly dismissive about what students' jobs might teach them, arguing that the generally low level of skill required, and the repetitive nature of the tasks, would not lead to greatly improved job proficiency among students.

In 1992, members of the Youth in Transition cohort who were aged 17 were asked to respond to a series of items which probed their experiences of being a part-time worker while they were at school in that year. Some of these items tapped their reasons for working, being prefaced by the statement 'I worked because...'. Table 2 records the combined percentages of students who agreed or strongly agreed with the various reasons for working. It could be expected that the relative importance of these reasons might vary for different sorts of students, yet previous studies have not dealt with such complexity (Bentley & O'Neil, 1984; Dalziel, 1989; Hobbs & Grant, 1991).

The large sample size and the detailed nature of the Youth in Transition data enabled more fine-grained analyses to be undertaken. In Table 2 percentage responses are presented for different groups of students. Those groups were defined on the basis of personal background characteristics (gender, family wealth, earlier school achievement, and type of school attended) as well as two characteristics of students' jobs - the type of job in which they were employed (white collar or blue collar) and the number of hours (up to or more than ten hours) that they worked each week (Bentley & O'Neil, 1984; Dalziel, 1989; Hobbs & Grant, 1991).

Faculty and students Vs. Employability Skills

In a developing country such as South Africa where the jobless rate is 23.1% of the labor force (4.1 million) (Mail & Guardian, 2008), it is expected that university graduates should be able to find employment but there are many who do not (Ntuli, 2007). The labor market oscillates between the skills shortage on one hand and the number of graduates who are without work on the other. It seems paradoxical that a country with a high unemployment rate, has graduates without work, and that professionals need to be imported or lured to the country. This situation may arise from the fact that students lack employability skills. Behavioral (soft) skills such as those gained through curricula that embed critical outcomes such as analytical skills, teamwork, organize and manage oneself, usually deliver more competent and employable graduates (Coll & Zegwaard, 2006).

Employers have indicated that students are often not prepared for the workplace and call on universities to produce more employable graduates (Barrie, 2006; Kember & Leung, 2005) by providing transferable skills that can be taken into the workplace (Smith, Clegg, Lawrence & Todd, 2007). Students' subject matter knowledge is usually satisfactory (Crebert, Bates, Bell, Patrick & Cragnolini, 2004; Hind, Moss & McKellan, 2007) but by improving and developing their competencies such as interpersonal skills, teamwork, communication and problem solving skills, value will be added to their intellectual capabilities making them more employable (Hind et al., 2007; Maher & Graves, 2007). Employers are expecting graduates to be work-ready and demanding a range of competencies and qualities of them (Yorke & Harvey, 2005).

Educational institutions should be critical of their program offerings and question if they are nurturing the appropriate competencies and consider how best to ensure these are developed (Kember & Leung, 2005).

Competencies (the term which will be used in this paper for skills such as soft skills, behavioral skills, generic attributes), that are necessary in any field of work should be an important element in undergraduate programs (Bath, Smith, Stein & Swann, 2004) and are the responsibility of higher educationalists to incorporate as part of their teaching and learning (Hind et al., 2007). According to Rainsbury, Hodges, Burchell & Lay (2002) the literature suggests that there is insufficient importance placed on the development of soft skills by many higher education institutions.

It is not advised that competencies be taught as a form of a check list but be integrated and contextualized into a curriculum (Bath, et al., 2004). Employability skills need to be embedded not only in any one module but must be throughout the curriculum at all levels (Hind et al., 2007). But faculty needs to be mindful that attempts to introduce attributes into the curricula have generally been unsuccessful (Barrie 2006).

There are a variety of interpretations of the term competency. It can be viewed as a characteristic of an individual (Zegward & Hodges, 2003) and related to personal attributes rather than technical skills (Hodges & Burchell, 2003). Coll, Zegward & Hodges (2002:36) define a competent individual as "one who has skills and attributes relevant to tasks undertaken". They used Birkett's distinction between "cognitive skills which are the technical knowledge, skills and abilities, whilst behavioral skills and personal skills such as principles, attitudes, values and motives". These terms could also be related to "employability skills" (Hind et al., 2007).

Work-integrated programs have the purpose of preparing students for the workplace by identifying and developing the important competencies that are believed to be needed by employers (Hodges & Burchell, 2003). Although institutions may have advisory committees involving industry employers to establish the currency of curricula, discussions are usually about technical skills that should be an outcome of the curricula and not the competencies that students should demonstrate. So it is often not clear what types of students' employers expect higher education to produce (Maharasoa & Hay, 2001).

The vocational nature of hospitality management is ideal to utilize work-integrated learning as a method of transferring classroom activities to the work place. Higher Education institutions offering such programs have the infrastructure of physical facilities that allow for the teaching of technical skills such as reception proficiency, culinary methods and service to customers, which students will need in the workplace environment. These technical skills are then transferred to the real work environment by the students having a compulsory semester of work-integrated learning (Crebert et al., 2004; Fleming & Eames, 2005).

The time spent in real life situations gives students the opportunity to apply abstract concepts learnt in the classroom. The soft skills are handled in a realistic manner rather than trying to simulate opportunities by carrying out role play or similar teaching methods in a classroom experience (Tovey, 2001; Warysazak, 1999).

Faculties are depended upon for quality graduates that they produce and send in to the world of work. Their view on what generic competencies such as analytical thinking, ability and willingness to learn, self-confidence, relationship building was sought in order to compare these with the students' views.

Faculties do interact with mentors whilst visiting students in the workplace for WIL assessments and have an indication of what employers expect of graduates. The results from this research would enable faculty to ensure inclusion of these competencies whilst teaching and assessing students. The challenge though is to make students realize how important it is to have generic competencies, how these improve their employment opportunities in a highly competitive market and that they should take ownership of these (Maher & Graves, 2007). They should also be aware of the needs and be able to relate their abilities to those required by employers (Yorke & Harvey, 2005). If students do not see the need or importance, the likelihood of higher education institutions managing to convince students to instill these, will be difficult (Coll & Zegward, 2002).

Literature Reviews

Generation Y

Interestingly, one of the characteristics of Generation Y is contended to be their valuing diversity, equality and tolerance in their working and non-work lives (Morton, 2002). There is then the possibility that this generation of people, those born between 1977 and 1994, may challenge female inequality in the hospitality industry. Other characteristics of Generation Ys according to Morton (2002) are that they seek jobs that provide training, fair compensation, and a positive company culture; also, Generation Ys want managers who empower them and who are open and positive.

Martin (2005) lists a number of features of this group of young people: they are technologically knowledgeable, independent, self-reliant and entrepreneurial thinkers; thriving on challenging work and creative expression within clear direction, they seek managerial support yet detest micromanagement as they have a preference to achieve tasks in their own way, at their own pace. Further, they are more used to and better at operating in teams than previous generations although they can also work well on their own (Martin, 2005). Lastly, this author notes that mutual loyalty founded on honesty and respect, as opposed to length of service, is an expectation of Generation Y. Kerslake (2005) reinforces that this group can demonstrate loyalty, together with dedication, with the rider that it is conditional on them achieving their personal goals; if this condition is not met, Generation Ys will seek new challenges in other jobs.

So distinct are the characteristics of Generation Y, that Martin (2005) argues that organizations need to customize their training and career structures for them. In an industry where long working hours are common, as outlined earlier, hospitality organizations may be wise to take note of Generation Y's expectation of work-life balance. More so than prior generations, Generation Y people value their non-work time, and while they want to enjoy work, they do not want it to dominate their lives, rather they want it to fund their lifestyle (Morton, 2002; Kerslake, 2005). Rolfe (2001) nods to the significance of remuneration for Generation Y in his finding that today's students are more interested in taking degrees, particularly vocational degrees which may include hospitality management, in order to secure jobs and lucrative careers.

To date little has been written about Generation Y in the hospitality industry. Traces of their defining characteristics can be seen in some hospitality studies, such as Lewis and Airey's (2000) work on secondary school students' attitudes to tourism careers. This work found that tourism is perceived to offer good career opportunities by students who have an interest in self-development and working with friendly people. However, there is at present a conspicuous knowledge gap about Generation Ys' perspectives on their hospitality job experiences and hospitality career perceptions. Given the implications of this group's 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. The new career structure context discussed above underlines the importance.

Previous commentators (c.f. Lakin and Riley, 1996; Ladkin, 2002) have argued for a call for a greater understanding of the HR and career issues relating to the hospitality sector. This paper has attempted to begin to redress this imbalance by examining the job experiences and career perceptions of those about to potentially embark on a full time career in hospitality management. Through a series of group discussions with third and fourth year students, all of whom fit the criteria of Generation Y, this research explored some of the issues students regarded as pertinent to their expectations of a future career in hospitality management. Their views were largely informed by their experiences of student part-time employment within hospitality management.

Most of the students had employment experience within the hospitality industry and were vocal regarding their views on this experience. The findings resonate with those found by previous research on the industry, and student employment in general (Barron and Maxwell, 1993; Broadbridge, 2003; Broadbridge et al., 2006a; Broadbridge and Swanson, 2006). Positive aspects of the industry

include its exciting, enjoyable nature and its perceived prospects for career opportunities and interesting experiences via the rapidly changing sector. The negative factors of the industry experienced by the students relate to some of the characteristics of the industry found by others (Wood, 1993; 1995; Visit Scotland/George Street Research 2002; Riley et al. 2002): they largely centre on poor pay and unsociable hours. Moreover, various customer and management communications were also perceived negatively leaving the students often feeling undervalued in their jobs. This was perhaps accentuated when they also felt they were not rewarded properly for the work they did. So while the industry as a whole was regarded as exciting and dynamic, the actual nature of some of the jobs undertaken had less appeal to the students. As McMahon and Quinn (1995) observed perhaps these students have an inadequate or distorted knowledge of the nature of the industry.

These experiences might have obscured some students' perceptions of a future career in hospitality management. Upholding a variety of other research (Barron and Maxwell, 1993; Johns and McKechnie, 1995; Jenkins, 2001), some of the students from this research, despite reading for a hospitality management degree, no longer contemplate a career in the industry (while others had reservations about their continued involvement in the industry). Furthermore, half foresaw themselves setting up their own businesses rather than working for others, thus displaying the entrepreneurial tendencies of Generation Y (Martin, 2005). This is potentially of concern to the industry in general if it continues to fail to attract vocationally specific graduates.

In considering a future career in hospitality, the students displayed a somewhat more committed and serious view to their employment and understandably sought managerial positions with a level of responsibility. They expected rapid linear promotion and recognised that to do this means changing jobs on a regular basis in boudaryless careers (Arthur, 1994) that are individually created (Hall and Mirvis, 1996). Again, they displayed various characteristics of Generation Y when talking about their future careers: confidence, passion, self-reliance, independence and ability for team working.

They also demonstrate characteristics of Generation Y in their consideration to move jobs in order to experience new challenges (Kerslake, 2005). Similar to the findings of Broadbridge et al (2006b), these students believe that if they make personal sacrifices and work hard early on in their careers it will pay off in the future in the form of challenging careers that command satisfying rewards. So there appeared to be a thinking that a short-term pain for a long-term gain could be achieved in relation to the future career in hospitality management.

Another issue for concern with the future employment of these Generation Y respondents is the potential conflict between Martin's (2005) observations of Generation Y's entrepreneurial, independent and self-reliant tendencies together with their repugnance of micromanagement, and the students' actual experiences of autocratic management styles and generally poor managerial communications. Their experiences of management in the hospitality industry to date might well be a reason why so many want to start their own business and exploit this characteristic tendency of Generation Y.

The issue of striking a balance between work and other aspects of life also needs to be researched in more detail than was able by the current research. The findings have highlighted the anti-social hours involved in the hospitality industry, and the belief of the students that they will need to work long hours (and maybe away from home) in order to progress their careers.

These reasons might explain why some students are loathe to enter the industry on graduation, particularly when they have had some first hand experience of working in the industry. Achieving a better work-life balance might also partly explain why so many of the students wanted to start their own business. In addition to displaying the entrepreneurial, creative, independent, self-reliant, confident and passionate characteristics of Generation Y, those electing to start their own business may perceive they will be better able to balance their work and non work lives if they are in charge.

A belief that the hospitality industry will always involve a sacrificing of non-work activities (because of the long hours and mobility issues created by changing jobs in order to pursue a career) may create longer term issues regarding the balancing of the work and non-work domains. It may prove to be one of the major concerns facing the hospitality industry in the future. The key inference from each and all of these human resource and career issues is that the hospitality industry needs to understand and respond to the characteristics of Generation Y in order to ensure it provides a conducive environment for these people to develop their careers, yet also retain a balanced lifestyle.

Experiences and Perceptions

The hospitality industry continues to be economically important around the world and in Lebanon (UNWTO, 2006) at a time when career structures (Baruch, 2004) and attitudes to work are changing (Rolfe, 2001). Building on the work of Broadbridge et al. (2006a), there will be a study examines the job experiences and career perceptions of young people in Lebanon who are about to embark on their full time careers in hospitality management.

Such young people, part of the so-called Generation Y, are held to have work motivations that mark them out from previous generations (Amar, 2004) and so present an interesting focus of study. Further, this focus can be seen to be valuable with regard to Ladkin's (2002:387) broad assertion that: "set against the background of a growing tourism and hospitality industry, a greater understanding of skill development and human resource issues relating to this profession is required.

More specifically, Lakin and Riley (1996) have called for research in the UK on hospitality management careers. Before primary work on Generation Y respondents' experiences and perceptions of careers in hospitality management is discussed, the article reviews the literature on the key features of contemporary hospitality employment, hospitality management careers and Generation Y.

Hospitality Employment

A variety of studies have been conducted that examine the image of working life in the hospitality and tourism industry. In their study of students studying hospitality and tourism degrees in Scotland, Barron and Maxwell (1993) identified that impressions of working life in the industry changed from being wholly positive to wholly negative as a consequence of the period of industrial experience that was core to the students' program of studies. The negative image that prevails regarding working life in the industry was identified in the comprehensive review of employment in hotels conducted by Wood (1993 and 1995) who identified the themes of long, unsociable hours, low pay, low status and high staff turnover that appear common in the industry.

The dichotomy regarding the image of the industry was also identified by Visit Scotland/George Street Research, (2002) who found that while careers in the industry were considered challenging and interesting, they were also perceived as offering long working hours, low pay and comprised repetitive work. Indeed, Riley et al. (2002:17) consider that employment in the industry is:

"blighted by the confusing complexity of its own image. On the one hand the image of tourism employment is of glamour while, on the other hand there is evidence of low pay and low status."

The image of careers in hospitality and tourism is also affected by the transient nature of careers common in the industry. Deery (2002) identified a turnover culture common in the UK and Australian hospitality industry with rates of up to 300% per year. While the level of instability such high rates of turnover would undoubtedly bring, the concept of job mobility, especially as a means of rapid promotion appears a common strategy amongst graduates in this field (McCabe, 2001).

The negative image of the industry as held by hospitality and tourism students appears to be developed in proportion to the increase in students' exposure to working life in the industry. The perceived glamorous nature of the industry (Riley et al. 2002; Barron and Maxwell, 1993) is quickly affected by what McMahon and Quinn (1995:15) describe as a combination of "inadequate knowledge of the nature of the industry, poor employee - organizational fit, poor working conditions and an introduction to the hard knocks syndrome" of working life in the industry. Consequently it has been found that the majority of hospitality and tourism graduates do not enter the industry on graduation (Barron and Maxwell, 1993; Johns and McKechnie, 1995; Jenkins, 2001). A recent study underlines that student work experiences in retailing can have a profound effect on graduates' career entry choices (Broadbridge, 2003).

Hospitality Management Careers

Definitions of the term career vary but commonly centre on a sequence of job related events for the individual. For Arnold (1997) for example a career is the individual's sequence of job positions, roles, activities and experiences. Similarly, for Tymon and Stumpf (2003:17) a career is a sequence, except they go further and state the sequence relates to activities that are "meaningful to the individual and add value to the organization in which the individual participates." And for Baruch (2004) too a career is individually sequential in that it involves the individual's progress and development process at work.

An important change in career sequencing occurred in the early 1990s. Instead of individuals having a series of moves within a company, cross-company, boundary less career moves generally became more commonplace (Arthur, 1994). McCabe (2001) emphasizes the evidence of mobility within different sectors of tourism and hospitality.

Multi-directional career systems have now therefore clearly emerged across industries, including hospitality. In these careers, loyalty and commitment to one or a few employers has given way to more short-term, mutually beneficial employer-employee relationships (Baruch 2004). Here, employees may expect to only stay with an employer for two or three years, reflecting the common time-frame of job moves for hotel managers according to McCabe (2001).

Also in the 1990s came recognition of greater individualism in careers. Identified as the protean career, the emergent approach placed responsibility on the individual as opposed to the employing organization for careers according to Hall and Mirvis (1996). The new approach was arguably inevitable given the move towards multi-directional, short term career stays. This is not to say that in-company promotion is no more as there is still evidence which indicates that promotion takes place in organizations (Holbeche, 2003). Indeed it is contended by Sturges (1999) that the traditional, linear career within an organization remains a hallmark of success and commitment which adheres to male based values. Therefore it may be the case that contemporary career structures have an undercurrent of a gendered element.

In the context of her study of hotel general managers' careers, Ladkin (2002:379) acknowledges changes in career structures and individualism: "given that careers are increasingly moving away from traditional types of bureaucratic traditional structures to careers that involve self-directed development." Three key findings are distilled from this research: growing numbers of industry entrants have a vocational qualification, experience in food and beverage functions is important to achieving general management positions, and personal mobility is important to career building.

While set in an Australian context, Ladkin levels that her work is congruent with the UK context. In earlier work by the same researcher (Ladkin, 1999), hotel manager careers was identified as prominent research theme, as was female hotel managers which picks up on the point made above about gendered career structures. Kattara (2005:239) reinforces this point in stating "females' status and career advancement in the hospitality field is an issue of particular importance." She reports that the disproportionate thus unequal representation of female managers is evident in the industry around the world and in the UK.

The importance of work placements

The first aspect to consider regarding university work placements is their importance and significance in a student's academic and personal development. 'Placement is an important component of third level hospitality management programs and is one of the most vital experiences on which graduates base their career aspirations' (McMahon and Quinn, 1995, p.13). Reiterating this point, Doyle (2001, p.16) from Springboard states that their research confirmed that work experience is the single most important factor in influencing young people's career choices.

The fact that work placements are valued highly in relation to a student's career decisions is echoed throughout other literature. Rayfield (2005, p.43) states the industrial experience, typically assists students in making vital career choices, and Jameson et al (2006, p.361) suggests that placements help in providing a basis for making career decisions. This is only one of numerous benefits acknowledged from completing a work placement. Other advantages recognized include; obtaining an insight into management and management methods, (Barber et al, 1997, p.106), enhancing employability, identifying transferable skills, (, 2009), developing skills other than those associated to academia, (Rayfield, 2005, p.43) and providing a learning experience which can only be achieved by working for a company, (Fowler and Tietze, 1996, p.30).

The selection and application process

Considering the significance that a work placement can have on a student's career choice and life decisions, it is important that the most suitable placement is found. In order for students to attain their "ideal" industrial placement experience a considerable amount of time and effort is required during the placement application process, (Rayfield, 2005, p.43).

Many different variables are present in the application and selection process, Sheffield Hallam University (, 2009) states their process of aiding students in selecting a work placement includes; advertising placements on the university intranet, presentations from the placement support team, help compiling CVs and implementing an online preference form for all placement seeking students to match their needs to placements.

After this process the placement employer will then follow their own individual application methods of which there are a range of different practices, whether this is through presentations, interviews or workshops, or a combination of all or some of these methods. Townsend et al (1993) explains that at the University of North Umbria rather than impose one particular model on all students, they have now come to a situation where they deal with the student individually. This is because „students have changed their outlooks and they now want to check out placements themselves and have very strong ideas as to what they want to do, (Townsend et al, 1993, p.30). This is an important idea to consider with regards to the process in which the student goes through to secure a placement, how does the whole application process affect a student's decision making. The student as an individual cannot be overlooked as different people react and relate differently to each stage of the process. Barber et al (1997, p.109) regard the coupling of student to placement a challenge and claim. Finding placements of good quality, which benefit employers and students alike and further the idea of mutual dependency, is a constant challenge.

Differences in the selection process have been identified. Doyle (2001, p.16) states that using assessment centre techniques to find your ideal placement student, is an ideal method, while an example from Procter and Gamble (Townsend et al, 1993) explains their comprehensive method; they provide interview notes for the lecturers and they do first and second interviews; they provide job descriptions and students are asked if they would like to spend half a day, or a day, in the department first. Some employers, due to geographical location, will only be able to carry out a telephone interview. To what extent does the nature of the application process affect student's expectations of the placement?

It is imperative that students apply to firms that are able to meet their expectations, (Rayfield, 2005, p.43). This, it's been discovered, is not quite as easy as it sounds. It's been widely reported that matching the expectations and requirements of a student to the most suited placement/workplace has been found to be a challenge. Kelley-Patterson and George (2001, p.322) propose that a number of conflicting demands and significant differences in expectations have been revealed. Related to this, Townsend et al (1993, p.32) state the major problem, for all placement students and their employers is the differential between experience required and knowledge expected.

Bridging the understanding between all parties involved needs to be achieved to meet expectations and ensure the employer and student gain the most out of the experience. Did the student feel there was sufficient communication between the other two parties during their decision making process? Waryszak (1997, cited in Jameson et al, 2006) suggests that the failings of a work placement can often be blamed on student's unrealistic expectations.

It has been suggested that this aspect of placements also brings some advantages, it is argued that the clash of expectation and experience provides scope for personal development and learning, and also the confrontation of one's expectations with the reality of the workplace during the placement is an important preparation for post-degree employment, (Jameson et al, 2006, p.361).

The relationship between the institution, employer and student

The relationship and understanding between the three parties, (the university, employer and student) has been touched on previously. This can be viewed as an important aspect to research in relation to the realistic views student's gain of work placement during the application process. Downey and DeVeau (1987, p.18) suggest it is beneficial that hospitality-program administrators evaluate and monitor their industry and academic ties.

Reiterating this view, to get the best out of placements from an employer's view, Doyle (2001, p.16) states they should ensure they are in regular contact with the college or university, especially the placement officer.

Although this is viewed as important some issues within these relationships have been documented. According to Downey and DeVeau (1987, p.20), there is „substantial disagreement between hospitality educators and industry recruiters regarding the content, structure, and administration of internship programs. This could be due to „the complex mix of variables involved in organizing and running a placement program, (Townsend et al, 1993, p.30).

Advice in overcoming this obstacle has been identified in various literatures. Townsend et al (1993) suggest; more interaction between institutions of higher education and the employers and also that parties must become more open to criticism and interact with regular debriefing on the success or otherwise of student placements. The key party here is the student; do they feel that the employer and the University were partners in the process?

An aspect to consider as to whether the placement met student expectations is the involvement of the university following the completion of the placement. According to McMahon and Quinn (1995, p.15) a student learns from the experience through structured post-placement debriefing, and Jameson et al (2006, p.364) state an „apparent lack of reflection raises doubts as to whether placements are achieving their potential for experiential learning. Do students feel that the debriefing from the university was sufficient in confirming the value of the work placement experience?

The Student Experience and Expectations

Baum (1991, p.8) suggests that, The International Hotels Association (IHA) may have a useful role to play in assisting the industry and educators to reach agreement on the essential "core" competences. Other institutions across the UK have also addressed concern regarding this issue, and developed "the partnership agreement". This code of good practice for the student, the college and the employer was produced through the co-operation of institutions in the UK involved in the education and training of hospitality management students (Council for Hospitality Management Education) and the Hotel Employers′ Group, (McMahon and Quinn, 1995, p.15-16).

There are conflicting observations on how the work placement is viewed by students after the experience is over. The „quality of the student's learning experience tends to vary considerably, (Townsend et al, 1993, p30). Rayfield (2005, p.43) suggests the „general census amongst returning sandwich placement student is that their time in industry exceeds their expectations, and research quoted by Fowler and Tietze (1996, p.30) shows that 82 per cent of those who have completed a placement valued their placement highly.

This is by no means consistent throughout other research. A study by Kelley-Patterson and George (2001, p.321) shares views from a student reflecting on their experience, (I was) failed by the University - students should be fully informed about what they are being involved in bad or good, and Jameson et al (2006, p.362) states that research indicates that a large number of placement students are discouraged from entering the tourism and/or hospitality industry by their experiences. This idea is echoed throughout other literature (McMahon and Quinn, 1995 and Lucas 2004).

Poor impressions created by work placement may prompt hospitality graduates to seek careers elsewhere, (Lucas, 2004, p.88). This illustrates that some student's expectations, prior to placement, haven't been met in reality as their opinions and aspirations change direction following their experience. Is this the case at Sheffield Hallam University and if so, could it have been avoided?

Career Aspirations

With hospitality and tourism organizations facing a shortage of people entering into the industry, it is important to ensure work placements meet or exceed expectations. Doyle (2001, p.16) states as an industry we are facing a crisis in the number of graduates and young people coming into our industry. It is predicted that there will be a shortage of skills in the next decade, (Burke and Ng, 2006, p.488). A response from Baum (1991, p.3), relating to this issue suggests „the link between college education and industry's requirement is the subject of particular interest, due to a shortage of high quality management recruits.

University hospitality teachers' industry experiences and their influences on university teaching practices in the classroom

Transitioning from industry to teaching as a second career (e.g., former managers who become university teachers) suggests the idea of developing a career. The concept of the boundary less career, which contrasts with the concept of the bounded organizational career, refers to movement across organizations and emphasizes the significance of the fit between the organizational circumstances and the individual's personal values (Parson, 1909; Holland, 1973).

Exemplified by the case of an individual who is hired from outside the organization, the development of a boundary less career involves a process of career renewal and recommitment; it also suggests the significance of possessing know-why, know-how and know-whom competencies, as well as recognition of an individual's interdependence (DeFillippi and Arthur, 1994). These competencies are used to move beyond the boundaries of a single employment setting and are developed through continuous and changing work experiences.

One's know-why, know-how and know-whom competencies, which serve as transferable

abilities when one changes from one career to another, have an impact on the successful construction of a 'protean career' path (Hall, 1976, 1996; Sargent and Domberger, 2007) that depends upon the individual's own career choice for self-fulfillment or self-identity rather than what occurs to the individual alone. The know-why competencies are defined by an individual's career motivation, values, interests, and identification with a particular organization. In the boundary less and protean career path, the know-why competencies may consequently be separate from, rather than correspond to, the culture of an organization with which the individual is affiliated. The know-why reflects personal meanings and beliefs that affect one's interpretative frameworks.

The know-how competencies are concerned with the accumulation and strength of one's skills, abilities, and industry-related knowledge and their subsequent application. The know-how typically develops through experience in relevant practices and is generally developed tacitly neither by being stated (Polanyi, 1966) nor by being independent of the context; instead, it is developed through experiential learning (Kolb, 1984) that cannot be divorced from the contextual process in which the individual is involved. Because of having been involved with the contextual process of the industry, the teacher with industry-oriented experience, for instance, has the potential synthesize between practical cases and general theories. This teacher is then expected to be able to transfer and apply useful industrial knowledge and principles into the university-teaching context.

Moreover, if connections and effectiveness are to be maintained, the move from industry to this new teaching context demands a continual updating of industrial know-how through inter-practice contact.

The know-whom competencies are related to the building of career support networks and are associated with social capital (Burt, 1997; Putnam, 1995). In this model career development occurs within a 'community of practice' (Wenger, 1998), as a reference group, and not only structures the know-how in a specific professional practice for sharing problem-solving strategies but makes available social relations that shape the influence of solidarity and identity of the individual. At the start of a new career, seeking support from social networks, relations and secure attachments are important (Ibarra and Lineback, 2005; Nelson and Quick, 1991).

The know-why, know-how, and know-whom competencies provide a framework for describing teachers' motivations, skills, and networks, respectively, that influence teachers' career changes and that cross organizational and occupational boundaries. Transitioning from one career to another implies agentic action, mission, recommitment, and personal and professional growth (Arthur, Inkson and Pringle, 1999; Resta, Huling and Rainwater, 2001; Mayotte, 2003). The transfer of previously valuable skills, experiences and knowledge to the new teaching context, however, is not an automatic transition (Ludwig, Stapleton and Goodrich, 1995; Powell, 1996).

While exceptional qualities and industry skills possessed by the industry-trained teacher can be useful and applicable to university curricula, the teacher, as he or she adapts, may continue to lack useful and professional teaching expertise, such as classroom management skills, the understanding of students' needs, the ability to motivate students and the provision and management of flexible office hours (Kang, Wu and Gould, 2005).

Industry-oriented teachers need to learn to apply teaching strategies and to adapt industry knowledge and skills to fit unique classroom circumstances and needs (Powell, 1996). Preconceived notions, attitudes, and expectations about teaching shaped by previous work experiences also need to be reflected upon by hospitality teachers as they transition between different vocational contexts (Bullough and Knowles, 1990; Freidus, 1994; Feng, 2010).

The paid work vs. study skills relationship

From the perspective of employers, 'employability' often seems to refer to 'work readiness', that is, possession of the skills, knowledge, attitudes and commercial understanding that will enable new graduates to make productive contributions to organizational objectives soon after commencing employment. Indeed, studies of employer demand for graduates in engineering and science disciplines have found that appropriate work experience and evidence of commercial understanding rank highly as selection criteria because of commercial pressures to seek graduates who will not require long 'learning curves' when they start employment (Mason, 1998, 1999).

However, in an extended discussion of the employability concept, Hillage and Pollard

(1998:11) put more emphasis on individuals possessing the capability 'to move self sufficiently within the labour market to realise potential through sustainable employment'. In a similar vein Harvey and Morey (2003) highlight the skills which graduates need in order to manage their own careers and those which will enable them to continue learning throughout their working lives

These broader conceptions of employability partly reflect the influence of the 1997 Dearing Report which identified a set of key skills which were 'relevant throughout life, not simply in employment' (NCIHE, 1997, Para. 9.18) Dearing defined these skills as Communication, Numeracy, IT and Learning how to learn at a higher level and recommended that provision of such skills should become a central aim for higher education.

These recommendations have been backed up by a number of government-funded initiatives and programs designed to encourage the development of such skills and, more generally, to enhance the employability of graduates, for example, the Enterprise in Higher Education Initiative 'Development Projects' covering areas such as Key Skills, Careers Guidance and Work Experience. Within HE the generic skills needed to enhance graduate employability (whether defined in terms of immediate work-readiness or longer-term career prospects) are now typically seen as including the skills emphasized by Dearing and also Literacy, Problem-solving skills and Team-working skills.

The importance of employability skills not related to specific subject knowledge has been highlighted in studies such as the Dearing Report (1997) as an important area for consideration in relation to employability. Indeed, this has been reinforced by Harvey et al. (1997), who identified: "The need for developing a range of personal and intellectual attributes beyond specific expertise in a disciplinary field is becoming increasingly important and is likely to be more pressing in the working world of the 21st century" (1997: 5). This research highlighted that employers require adaptive and flexible recruits who can rapidly integrate into the Hotel and exhibit a range of interpersonal and social skills alongside their educational attainments.

However, research on paid work and study has focused on three areas. First, research has focused on employers' skill demands, with Nickson et al. (2005) highlighting the organizational need for employees to have the right mix of skills.

Second, within the hospitality and tourism field, work has discussed the employment of students rather than skill development: for example, whether the employer's approach to the recruitment of student labor is a strategic decision or a pragmatic response (Lucas and Ralston, 1996); or identifying employers' and students' needs along with the advantages and disadvantages for both parties in these working arrangements (for example: Curtis and Lucas, 2001).

Third, research has considered the effects of paid employment on undergraduate students' academic studies. Early work, based mainly on assessing income and numbers of students in employment, highlighted the need for a broader consideration of the impact of employment on academic studies (Ford et al., 1995). More recent work has highlighted both the negative impacts of paid employment on study: for example, on health and well-being, study outcomes and the quality of the higher education experience (Finch et al., 2006).

Other studies, however, have suggested that, while the adverse affects of paid employment on study increase with the number of hours worked, working has been shown to be beneficial in enhancing students' skills and confidence and in providing an understanding of the world of work (Curtis and Shani, 2002). All of these studies acknowledge that part-time paid employment is increasing and being used as a strategy for students to deal with the increasing costs of higher education.

While consensus exists among key stakeholders about the importance of employability, there is still debate as to how employability skills are best embedded within the curriculum (Nield and Graves, 2006). Key work defining employability skills from Knight and Yorke regards employability as "a set of achievements - skills, understandings and personal attributes - that make graduates more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupations, which benefit themselves, the community and the economy" (Knight and Yorke, 2003:7).

Considering the aspects that make up employability, Yorke and Knight (2004) identify three areas: personal qualities, such as self-confidence, independence and stress tolerance; core skills, including numeracy, language skills and global awareness; and process skills, such as problem-solving, team-working and applying subject understanding.

With a focus on employability skills, other research, such as that by Raybould and Wilkins (2005) exploring the undergraduate hospitality student and the needs of hospitality employers in Australia, has addressed the importance of these 'skills' to stakeholders such as industry, education and students. The majority of the 371 hospitality managers surveyed in Raybould and Wilkin's study considered that there was a need for "graduates to have a range of generic interpersonal and human relations skills whilst technical skills were seen as comparatively unimportant" (2005: 205). Managers ranked interpersonal skills and the problem-solving and self-management areas as the most important ones for graduates.

Recently, in the UK, work by Nield and Graves (2006) has assessed different stakeholders' perceptions of skills required by graduates for employability. Drawing on data from focus groups, their research found that, while all process skills were deemed to be equally important, certain core skills and personal qualities were considered to have greater significance.

Employability skills teaching is explicitly aimed at enhancing graduates' skill sets in ways that should increase their attractiveness to potential employers. This is an underlying rationale for the inclusion of graduate labor market outcomes in measures of university performance developed by HEFCE (discussed in Section 1). 'Success' in the graduate labor market is typically defined as graduates securing employment in jobs which make appropriate use of the skills and knowledge developed in the course of their university studies.

In matching theory, labor market 'failure' on the part of individual graduates - unemployment or underutilization of graduate-level skills in employment -- reflects mismatches between graduates and employers which may come about for a number of reasons. For example, Coles and Smith (1998) emphasize that in a random matching model mismatches between job-seekers and employers may arise because of imperfect information, resulting in time and search costs for prospective partners to obtain information about better matches. They also propose an alternative 'stock-flow matching' model in which, after an initial round of match-making, agents may simply wait for appropriate partners to enter the market in a later time period. Other strands of matching theory emphasize the role of institutional and labor market rigidities in contributing to mismatches between job-seekers and employers, for example, the higher incidence of underutilization of skills among female graduates who combine part-time employment with care of young children (Green, McIntosh and Vignoles, 2002).

In a recent investigation of labor market mismatches in the Netherlands, Allen and van der Velden (2001) find that 'education-job mismatches' (individuals holding jobs for which their formal qualifications are higher or lower than required) do not correspond closely with 'skill-job mismatches' (individuals holding jobs for which their skills are above or below those required). One possible explanation for this is that, within given educational qualification categories such as degree-holders, there may be unmeasured differences in skills between individuals, and individuals deemed by employers to be relatively low-skilled may be less likely than others in their qualification group to be offered jobs which require their level of formal qualification.

Recent UK evidence in support of this hypothesis of 'heterogeneous skills within qualification levels' has been presented by Green and McIntosh (2002) who find that less than half of people identified in the 2001 Skills Survey as over-qualified (in terms of formal certification) for their jobs were also over-skilled (that is, in their own evaluation, not making much use of their skills and abilities in their present jobs).

Another proposition advanced by Allen and van der Velden is that the selection criteria used by employers when screening job applicants may include factors such as work experience, gender and social background which are distributed unevenly within educational qualification categories. This is another potential line of explanation why individuals with similar levels of formal certification may encounter varying degrees of success in securing employment in jobs which make use of their graduate-level skills and knowledge.

Thus matching theory, together with the literature on over education and underutilization of skills, points to several reasons why the teaching, learning and assessment of employability skills might be expected (all else being equal) to contribute to superior labor market outcomes for graduates in possession of those skills.

Assume that some university departments make concerted efforts to develop employability skills in the ways described in Section 2 while others do not. Graduates from the first type of department will be referred to as 'ES graduates' in contrast to 'Non-ES graduates' from the second type of department.

Firstly, the quality of employer-graduate matches in the labor market (and the speed with which such ma