Delivering the European Skills Agenda: the importance of social skills for a sustainable tourism and hospitality industry
The research presents the results of a quantitative survey of senior managers’ evaluation of proficiency of employees’ social skills completed in 2019 within the framework of the Next Tourism Generation Alliance, a European Commission funded project. The current and future levels of proficiency, social skills gaps and training are assessed. The sample includes 1404 respondents from organisations across eight countries in Europe in five tourism and hospitality sectors (hospitality, food & beverage, tour-operators, visitor attractions and DMOs). Results show significant country-based differences and variations according to the type of organisation, operational sector and organisation size. The required future levels of the social skills are strongly related to their current levels. Two clusters are identified based on the management perceptions of employees’ social skills gaps. Respondents in the first cluster (N=871) see only small gaps between the current and required future proficiency levels of social skills in their organisations while respondents in the second cluster (N=533) perceive much larger gaps. The findings indicate a need to develop holistic social skill training and education which supports quality customer experiences and sustainable tourism criteria.
Baccarani, C., & Bonfanti, A. (2016). Business theatre in management studies: a structured literature review and future research directions. International Journal of Managerial and Financial Accounting, 8(3-4), 334-360. https://doi.org/10.1504/IJMFA.2016.081861
Bailly, F., & Léné, A. (2013). The personification of the service labour process and the rise of soft skills: A French case study. Employee Relations, 35(1), 79-97. https://doi.org/10.1108/01425451311279429
Bakas, F. E., Costa, C., Breda, Z., & Durão, M. (2018). A critical approach to the gender wage gap in tourism labor. Tourism Culture & Communication, 18(1), 35-49. https://doi.org/10.3727/109830418X15180180585167
Baker, M., & O’Brien, W. (2017). National ‘soft skills’ training: Investigating soft skill training in the outdoor recreation sector. Blue Mountains, NSW: Lamped Research. Retrieved from https://auscamps.asn.au/application/files/5515/5010/2468/ACA-Soft-skills-study-Formative-Public-Report-2March2017.pdf
Balcar, J. (2016). Is it better to invest in hard or soft skills? Economic and Labour Relations Review, 27(4), 453-470. https://doi.org/10.1177/1035304616674613
Baum, T. (2018). Sustainable human resource management as a driver in tourism policy and planning: a serious sin of omission? Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 26(6), 873-889. https://doi.org/10.1080/09669582.2017.1423318
CEDEFOP (2015). Skills shortages in European Enterprises: Striking the balance between Vocational Education and Training and the Labour market (CEDEFOP, Reference series 102). Publications Office of the European Union.
Börner, K., Scrivner, O., Gallant, M., Ma, S., Liu, X., Chewning, K., Wu, L., & Evans, J.A. (2018). Skill discrepancies between research, education, and jobs reveal the critical need to supply soft skills for the data economy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 115(50), 12630-12637. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1804247115
Burns, P. M. (1997). Hard?skills, soft?skills: undervaluing hospitality’s ‘service with a smile’. Progress in Tourism and Hospitality Research, 3(3), 239-248. https://doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1099-1603(199709)3:3<239::AID-PTH80>3.0.CO;2-2
Carlisle, S., Ivanov, S., & Dijkmans, C. (2023). The Digital Skills Divide: Evidence from the European Tourism Industry. Journal of Tourism Futures, 9(2), 240-266. https://doi.org/10.1108/JTF-07-2020-0114
Carlisle, S., Ivanov, S., Dijkmans, C., & Marco, B. (2022). Environmental skills gaps in tourism and hospitality organisations: Evidence from Europe. Tourism: An Interdisciplinary Perspective, 70(3), 411-431. https://doi.org/10.37741/t.70.2.6
Carlisle, S., Zaki, K., Ahmed, M., Dixey, L., & McLoughlin, E. (2021). The imperative to address sustainability skills gaps in tourism in Wales. Sustainability, 13(3), 1161. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031161
Chan, J. K. L. (2011). Enhancing the employability of and level of soft skills within tourism and hospitality graduates in Malaysia: The issues and challenges. Journal of Tourism, 12(1), 1–15.
Castro, C., & Ferreira, F. (2019). Entrepreneurs’ Self-Perception of Skills in Rural Tourism. European Journal of Tourism Research, 21, 50-68. https://doi.org/10.54055/ejtr.v21i.358
Chase, D. M., & Masberg, B. A. (2008). Partnering for skill development: Park and recreation agencies and university programs. Managing Leisure, 13(2), 74-91. https://doi.org/10.1080/13606710801933438
Chernyshenko, O. S., Kankaraš, M., & Drasgow, F. (2018). Social and emotional skills for student success and well-being: Conceptual framework for the OECD study on social and emotional skills (OECD Education Working Papers, No. 173). OECD Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1787/db1d8e59-en.
Chrobot-Mason, D., & Leslie, J. B. (2012). The role of multicultural competence and emotional intelligence in managing diversity. The Psychologist-Manager Journal, 15, 219–236. https://doi.org/10.1080/10887156.2012.730442
Cobo, C. (2013). Skills for innovation: Envisioning an education that prepares for the changing world. Curriculum Journal, 24(1), pp. 67-85. https://doi.org/10.1080/09585176.2012.744330
Costa, C., Bakas, F. E., Breda, Z., Durão, M., Carvalho, I., & Caçador, S. (2017). Gender, flexibility and the 'ideal tourism worker'. Annals of Tourism Research, 64, 64-75. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annals.2017.03.002
Crawford, A., Weber, M. R., & Lee, J. (2020). Using a grounded theory approach to understand the process of teaching soft skills on the job so to apply it in the hospitality classroom. Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism Education, 26, 100239. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhlste.2020.100239
Crosbie, R. (2005). Learning the soft skills of leadership. Industrial and Commercial Training, 37(1), 45-51. https://doi.org/10.1108/00197850510576484
Cullen, A. M. (2011). Unemployed job seekers' access to interactive service work. Employee Relations, 33(1), 64-80. https://doi.org/10.1108/01425451111091654
Dolnicar, S., Grün, B., Leisch, F., & Schmidt, K. (2014). Required sample sizes for data-driven market segmentation analyses in tourism. Journal of Travel Research, 53(3), 296-306. https://doi.org/10.1177/0047287513496475
Daniel, A.D., Costa, R.A., Pita, M., & Costa, C. (2017). Tourism Education: What about entrepreneurial skills? Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management, 30, 65-72. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhtm.2017.01.002
Devile, E. L., Eusébio, C., & Moura, A. (2023). Traveling with special needs: investigating constraints and negotiation strategies for engaging in tourism activities. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Insights (ahead-of-print). https://doi.org/10.1108/JHTI-09-2022-0410
Dixon, J., Belnap, C., Albrecht, C., & Lee, K. (2010). The importance of soft skills. Corporate Finance Review, 14(6), 35.
Duckworth, A. L., & Yeager, D. S. (2015). Measurement matters: Assessing personal qualities other than cognitive ability for educational purposes. Educational Researcher, 44(4), 237-251. https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189X15584327
Emmerling, R. & Boyatzis, R. (2012). Emotional and social intelligence competencies: cross cultural implications. Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal, 19(1), 4-18. https://doi.org/10.1108/13527601211195592
Enback, S. (2020). COVID-19: The impact on skills in hospitality, retail, travel and aviation. People 1st. International. Available online: https://people1st.co.uk/getattachment/Insights/Covid-19-live-research/COVID-19-skills-impact-recovery-survey/COVID-19_The-impact-on-skills-in-hospitality,-retail,-travel-and-aviation.pdf/?lang=en-GB
Eurostat (2022). Top 10 growing occupations between Q1 2021 and Q1 2022. Available at https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/en/web/products-eurostat-news/-/ddn-20220705-3
Espeso-Molinero, P. (2019). Tendencias del turismo cultural [Cultural Tourism Trends]. PASOS Revista de turismo y patrimonio cultural, 17(6), 1101-1112. https://doi.org/10.25145/j.pasos.2019.17.076
European Commission (2020a). EU Pact for Skills Strategy. Department of Employment, Social Affairs and Social Inclusion. Retrieved from https://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=1517&langId=en
European Commission (2020b). European Industrial Strategy. Department of Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship, SMEs. Retrieved from https://single-market-economy.ec.europa.eu/industry/strategy_en
European Commission (2022). European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan. Department of Employment, Social Affairs and Social Inclusion. Retrieved from https://op.europa.eu/webpub/empl/european-pillar-of-social-rights/en/
Flin, R. (2010). CRM (non-technical) skills—applications for and beyond the flight deck. In E. L. Wiener, B. G. Kanki, & R. L. Helmreich, (Eds.). Crew resource management (pp. 181-202). Academic Press.
Francis, K., Wamathai, A., Wandaka, J. K., & Jilo, N. (2020). Analysis of the skills gap in tourism and hospitality industry in Kenya. Journal of Tourism Management Research, 7(1), 42-51. https://doi.org/10.18488/journal.31.2020.71.42.51
George, D., & Mallery, P. (2019). IBM SPSS Statistics 25. Step by Step. A simple guide and reference. 15th ed. Routledge.
Haven?Tang, C., & Jones, E. (2008). Labour market and skills needs of the tourism and related sectors in Wales. International Journal of Tourism Research, 10(4), 353-363. https://doi.org/10.1002/jtr.666
Hochschild, A. R. (1983). The managed heart. University of California Press.
Habimana, A., Saaverdra, R., & Sinining, V. (2023). The role of communities in developing sustainable tourism in Rwanda. Central Asian Journal of Innovations on Tourism Management and Finance, 4(3), 91-108. https://doi.org/10.17605/OSF.IO/VDBKE
Hurrell, S.A. (2016). Rethinking the soft skills deficit blame game: Employers, skills withdrawal, and the reporting of soft skills gaps. Human Relations, 69(3), 605-628. https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726715591636
Johanson, M., Ghiselli, R., Shea, L. J., & Roberts, C. (2011). Changing competencies of hospitality leaders: A 25-year review. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Education, 23(3), 43-47. https://doi.org/10.1080/10963758.2011.10697012
Kautz, T., Heckman, J. J., Diris, R., Ter Weel, B., & Borghans, L. (2014). Fostering and measuring skills: Improving cognitive and non-cognitive skills to promote lifetime success. OECD Publishing.
Kim, H.Y. (2013). Statistical notes for clinical researchers: assessing normal distribution using skewness and kurtosis. Restorative Dentistry & Endodontics, 38(1), 52-54. https://doi.org/10.5395/rde.2013.38.1.52
Kim, J. S., Erdem, M., Byun, J., & Jeong, H. (2011). Training soft skills via e?learning: international chain hotels. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 23(6), 739-763. https://doi.org/10.1108/09596111111153457
Kiryakova-Dineva, T., Kyurova, V., & Chankova, Y. (2019). Soft skills for sustainable development in tourism: the Bulgarian experience. European Journal of Sustainable Development, 8(2), 57-57. https://doi.org/10.14207/ejsd.2019.v8n2p57
Koc, E. (2019). Turkish tourism and hospitality students’ social anxiety and avoidance. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Education, 31(1), 49-54. https://doi.org/10.1080/10963758.2018.1480962
Koc, E. (2020). Cross-cultural aspects of tourism and hospitality: A services marketing and management perspective. Routledge.
Lamine, W., Mian, S., Fayolle, A. (2014). How do social skills enable nascent entrepreneurs to enact perseverance strategies in the face of challenges? A comparative case study of success and failure. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research, 20(6), 517-541. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEBR-02-2013-0020
Leister, W. (2019). Strengthening tourists’ engagement in guided hiking and trekking. Administrative Sciences, 9(2), 45. https://doi.org/10.3390/admsci9020045
Levant, Y., Coulmont, M., & Sandu, R. (2016). Business simulation as an active learning activity for developing soft skills. Accounting Education, 25(4), 368-395. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09639284.2016.119127
Lundberg, C., & Mossberg, L. (2008). Learning by sharing: waiters' and bartenders' experiences of service encounters. Journal of Foodservice, 19(1), 44-52. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-4506.2007.00079.x
Macdonald, C.L. & Merrill, D. (2009), Intersectionality in the emotional proletariat. A new lens on employment discrimination in service work. In M. Korczynski, and C.L. MacDonald, (Eds), Service Work: Critical Perspectives (pp. 113-33). Routledge.
Magalhães, C., Araújo, A., & Andrés Marques, I. (2023). Hotel workers’ perceptions on soft and hard skills in Porto, Portugal. Journal of Human Resources in Hospitality & Tourism, 22(1), 49-70. https://doi.org/10.1080/15332845.2023.2126956
Marinakou, E., & Giousmpasoglou, C. (2015). Stakeholders’ views on the development of a higher education hospitality program in Bahrain: Challenges and opportunities. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Education, 27(2), 85-92. https://doi.org/10.1080/10963758.2015.1033104
Marneros, S., Papageorgiou, G., & Efstathiades, A. (2020). Identifying key success competencies for the hospitality industry: The perspectives of professionals. Journal of Teaching in Travel & Tourism, 20(4), 237-261. https://doi.org/10.1080/15313220.2020.1745732
Mínguez, C., Martínez-Hernández, C., & Yubero, C. (2021). Higher education and the sustainable tourism pedagogy: Are tourism students ready to lead change in the post pandemic era?. Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism Education, 29, 100329. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhlste.2021.100329
Mooney, S., Robinson, R., Solnet, D., & Baum, T. (2022). Rethinking tourism’s definition, scope and future of sustainable work and employment: editorial for the Journal of Sustainable Tourism special issue on “locating workforce at the heart of sustainable tourism discourse”. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 30(12), 1-19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09669582.2022.2078338
Nickson, D., Warhurst, C., Cullen, A. M., & Watt, A. (2003). Bringing in the excluded? Aesthetic labour, skills and training in the 'new' economy. Journal of Education and Work, 16(2), 185-203. https://doi.org/10.1080/1363908032000070684
Nyanjom, J., & Wilkins, H. (2016). The development of emotional labour skill in food and beverage practical training. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Education, 28(4), 178-188. https://doi.org/10.1080/10963758.2016.1226847
OECD (2019). OECD Future of Skills for 2030: OECD Learning Compass 2030. OECD Publication.
Park, J., & Jeong, E. (2019). Service quality in tourism: A systematic literature review and keyword network analysis. Sustainability, 11(13), 3665. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11133665
Reisinger, Y. (2009). International Tourism. Cultures and Behavior. Routledge
Rivera Jr, D., & Lee, J. (2016). Does hospitality diversity education make a difference in undergraduate students’ emotional intelligence. Journal of Teaching in Travel & Tourism, 16(2), 143-159. https://doi.org/10.1080/15313220.2015.1122560
Ricchiardi, P., & Emanuel, F. (2018). Soft skill assessment in higher education. Journal of Educational, Cultural and Psychological Studies (ECPS Journal), (18), 21-53. https://doi.org/10.7358/ecps-2018-018-ricc
Rychen, D. S., & Salganik, L. H. (2003). Highlights from the OECD Project Definition and Selection Competencies: Theoretical and Conceptual Foundations (DeSeCo). (ED476359). OECD Publishing.
Sanchez Puerta, M., Valerio, A., & Bernal, M.G. (2016). Taking Stock of Programs to Develop Socioemotional Skills: A Systematic Review of Program Evidence. The World Bank Group.
Sariego López, I., & Mazarrasa Mowinckel, K. (2020). Key competences for cultural awareness and social skills in the tourist industry. Journal of Tourism and Heritage Research, 3(1), 469-488.
Scott-Halsell, S. A., Saiprasert, W., & Yang, J. (2013). Emotional intelligence differences: Could culture be the culprit? Journal of Teaching in Travel & Tourism, 13(4), 339-353. https://doi.org/10.1080/15313220.2013.839301
Shooter, W., Sibthorp, J., & Paisley, K. (2009). Outdoor leadership skills: A program perspective. Journal of Experiential Education, 32(1), 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1177/105382590903200102
Singh, A., & Jaykumar, P. (2019). On the road to consensus: key soft skills required for youth employment in the service sector. Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes, 11(1), 10-24. https://doi.org/10.1108/WHATT-10-2018-0066
Sisson, L.G. & Adams, A.R. (2013). Essential Hospitality Management Competencies: The Importance of Soft Skills. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Education, 25(3), 131-145. https://doi.org/10.1080/10963758.2013.826975
Spowart, J. (2011). Hospitality students' competencies: Are they work Ready? Journal of Human Resources in Hospitality and Tourism, 10(2), 169-181. https://doi.org/10.1080/15332845.2011.536940
Taylor, A. (2005). What employers look for: The skills debate and the fit with youth perceptions. Journal of Education and Work, 18(2), 201-218. https://doi.org/10.1080/13639080500085984
Theriault, S., & Ljungren, R. (2022). Attending to each other: centering neurodivergent museum professionals in attentive facilitation. Journal of Museum Education, 47(2), 238-250. https://doi.org/10.1080/10598650.2022.2076200
Tilea, M & Duta, O.A. (2015). Transversal Skills Development in Modern Teaching Practice. Pro-Bucharest University Press.
Tracey, J. B. (2014). A review of human resources management research: The past 10 years and implications for moving forward. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 26(5), 679-705. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCHM-02-2014-0056
Tsalikova I.K., Pakhotina S.V. (2019). Scientific research on the Issue of Soft Skills Development (Review of the Data in International Databases of Scopus, Web of Science). The Education and Science Journal, 21(8), 187-207. https://doi.org/10.17853/1994-5639-2019-7-187-207
Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1974). Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. Science, 185(4157), 1124-1131. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.185.4157.1124
Wang, Y. F., & Tsai, C. T. (2014). Employability of hospitality graduates: Student and industry perspectives. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Education, 26(3), 125-135. https://doi.org/10.1080/10963758.2014.935221
Weber, M. R., Crawford, A., & Dennison, D. (2012). North Carolina human resource professionals’ perceptions of soft skill competencies. Journal of Human Resources in Hospitality & Tourism, 11(3), 225-238. https://doi.org/10.1080/15332845.2012.668655
Weber, M. R., Crawford, A., Lee, J., & Dennison, D. (2013). An exploratory analysis of soft skill competencies needed for the hospitality industry. Journal of Human Resources in Hospitality & Tourism, 12(4), 313-332. https://doi.org/10.1080/15332845.2013.790245
Weber, M. R., Lee, J., & Crawford, A. (2020). A suggested best practice for enhancing performance of soft skills with entry-level hospitality managers. Anatolia, 31(1), 76-87. https://doi.org/10.1080/13032917.2019.1703770
Weforum (2022) What are the EU’s fastest growing jobs now? And what will they be in the future? World Economic Forum Publication. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/08/jobs-growing-economy-eu/ WTTC (2021). Staff Shortages. World Travel and Tourism Council publication. https://wttc.org/Portals/0/Documents/Reports/2021/WTTC-Staff-Shortages.pdf
Zehrer, A., & Mössenlechner, C. (2009). Key competencies of tourism graduates: The employers' point of view. Journal of Teaching in Travel & Tourism, 9(3-4), 266-287. https://doi.org/10.1080/15313220903445215
Zhou, L., Liu, J., & Liu, D. (2022). How does discrimination occur in hospitality and tourism services, and what shall we do? A critical literature review. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 34(3), 1037-1061. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCHM-07-2021-0849
Zwane, F. N., Du Plessis, L., & Slabbert, E. (2014). Analysing employers’ expectations of employee skills in the South African tourism industry. SA Journal of Human Resource Management, 12(1) Art. #550. http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v12i1.550
Copyright (c) 2023 Tourism & Management Studies
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.