Skilled Employee Retention in Hong Kong's Hospitality Industry: The Perspective of the Hotel's HR Manager

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Skills and Competencies Needed
for the Hong Kong Hotel Industry:
The Perspective of the Hotel
Human Resources Manager
Benny Chan
Marianne Coleman

ABSTRACT. The tourism industry is one of the main sources of income to Hong Kong. If qualified employees provide better service, Hong Kong can potentially attract even more visitors. The training of new recruits and existing staff is therefore vital, but views on the value and the type of training vary amongst the stakeholders. This study of the views of hotel human resources managers revealed that they considered that people who were interested in developing their career in the hospitality industry must be prepared to start at the bottom. The hotel human resources managers strongly believe that employees must have a positive service-mind and commitment to the industry with a certain degree of working experience. Employers perceived these were important components to success for every member of staff, rather than having a good educational background.

It is suggested that in order to face the challenges of retention of qualified employees, the growth of information technology and more demanding customers, provision of educational qualifications is needed.

Benny Chan, EdD, is Lecturer, School of Hotel & Tourism Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong (E-mail: hmbenny@polyu.edu.hk). Marianne Coleman, BA (Hons.), MA, PhD, is Senior Lecturer in Education Leadership and Management, Institute of Education, University of London, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL (E-mail: m.coleman@ioe.ac.uk).

Journal of Human Resources in Hospitality & Tourism, Vol. 3(1) 2004 http://www.haworthpress.com/web/JHRHT
© 2004 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved.
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1300/J171v03n01_02

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JOURNAL OF HUMAN RESOURCES IN HOSPITALITY & TOURISM

Such qualifications will raise the status of the hotel industry in general and enhance the status of the service providers as professionals. [Article copies available for a fee from The Haworth Document Delivery Service: 1-800-HAWORTH. E-mail address: Website:

© 2004 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved.]

KEYWORDS. Skills and competencies, hotel expectations, educational qualifications, human resource managers

INTRODUCTION
Tourism is the top foreign exchange earner among the service industries in Hong Kong. A monthly report released by the Hong Kong Tourism Board in December, 2001 reported that the total number of visitors in December was 1,305,185. The total tourism receipts was HK$64.3 billion from January to December, 2001. There was a growth of 5% in total tourism receipts when compared with the same period in the year 2000 (HKTB, 2001). From a more global perspective, the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) reported in 1999 that there will be 56.6 million visitors to Hong Kong by 2020 and Hong Kong will then become the fifth favourite destination. In 1999, Hong Kong was ranked the 18th favourite destination in the world (Anon, 1999). Tourism also creates a large number of job opportunities in the service industries, which represent over ten per cent of the total labour force. In terms of employment size, the wholesale, retail, import/export, restaurant and hotel sectors remain the largest, with 1,027,300 persons engaged in 2001 (http:// info.gov.hk/censtatd/eng/press/labour2 ).

Despite these positive indications, the industry is at present experiencing some major challenges. The unemployment rate rose to 5.5 per cent in October, 2001 and is predicted to peak at about 6.6 per cent in early 2002 (Chan and Gould, 2001). However, according to the labour force statistics released on May 21, 2002, by the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department, the unemployment rate went up to a historical record high of 7.1% (HKCSD, 2002).

With the continuation of an economic recession, the Chairman of the Hong Kong Catering Management Association, Yeung Yiu Chung,...
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