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The importance of utilising selection tools in the student selection process in hospitality training institutions in Cape Town
Lundy, Penelope Rejoice
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In the light of the growing hospitality industry on one hand, and the limited space available at hospitality training institutions on the other, hotel schools are faced with the challenge of being able to identify students who will most likely be able to complete their courses and thus serve the industry. The practical element of hospitality studies is a defining characteristic that differentiates the subject from other business and management courses. Hotel schools therefore are required to be able to select students that are able to cope with the academic and practical requirements of hospitality courses. This research focused on analysing the current selection practices used by hospitality training institutions when selecting entry level students. The purpose was to identify success predictors and thus formulate an effective selection programme that incorporates the student‟s academic and vocational skills in order to reduce the student drop-out rate and increase the number of graduates entering the job market. The target population used for this research was hospitality management students. The criteria used were hospitality management students enrolled for courses with a qualification that is in accordance with NQF level 6 in Cape Town. The two schools that were used as the sample for this study were the IHS (International Hotel School) and the CTHS (Cape Town Hotel School), as they were found to be the only two schools that fit the criteria. The purposive sampling method was used in the form of semi-structured interviews that were conducted with the four academics involved in the student selection process at both institutions. Questionnaires were sent out to students and hospitality industry professionals to be completed. Information was also derived from the IHS and CTHS‟s data-bases to determine what the drop-out rates were at each institution. The findings revealed that the student drop-out rate was up to a significant 30%. A number of students were not well informed of the nature of the hospitality industry and the career path to which it lead when applying to study courses in hospitality. The findings also revealed that each school used different assessment criteria during the selection process. The selection process ranged from being a purely academic exercise to being a very extensive interview and assessment programme that tested both academic and vocational skills. Realising that it is vital to determine industry fit, the researcher made recommendations on tools that could be used during the selection process that would allow access to as many students as possible without resulting in a high drop-out rate. Utilising effective selection tools in the student selection process not only ensures a steady flow of suitable candidates, but also will ensure efficient hospitality professionals in the future to continuously supply the growing hospitality and tourism industry.