What Skills Can Graduate Talent Bring to Augment Service Quality in the Hotel Industry?

By Bernadette Scott Senior Lecturer, Business Management, Glasgow School for Business & Society | March 01, 2015

What Skills Can I Expect From Graduates?

Graduates bring with them a set of both enabling and translation level attributes according to Hughes and Barrie (2010). The enabled graduate having been honed by the degree of learning and immersion in scholarship is then able to translate according to context using their own skills sets, including cognitive ability and personal attributes to help achieve effective global citizenship. The 21st Century graduate needs to be in tune with all the requirements of the growing knowledge economy and this means that their translation abilities must cover ethics, social and professional understanding, as well as high levels of communication and informational literacy.

There is a difference between the skills sets of under and post graduate talent. According to the QAA (2009) undergraduates are expected to bring critical understanding to a situation, with a knowledge bank which is frequently updated. This awareness of the fluidity involved in knowledge change is important in the new era due to rapid movements across markets. They must also be able to identify, analyze, inquire, formulate, assess, evaluate, argue and apply critically, providing creative solutions which are evidence based within the complexities of changing social, cultural and economic environments, in professional and ethical ways.

Master's status, according to the QAA expects demonstration of all of this, plus the added dimensions of originality, application of advanced knowledge, as well as the ability to deal with complexities and incomplete data in reaching effective solutions. Graduate status is therefore a serious commodity for an organization to weave into its cultural fabric and it can really boost the availability of talent within the pipeline for deployment as required. Organizations often complain that graduates do not arrive with the exact skills fit that they require. The fact is that most now recruit from open graduate pools, which are not discipline specific. They state that they are looking for creativity and graduate level ability, rather than sector experience or subject specific knowledge.

Graduates begin to hone their professional identity (which includes their graduate status) during their programs of study, but this is by no means complete at the point of graduation. The role of the employer is crucial in continuing this development and forms part of the organizational investment in its graduate talent pipeline (Scott, 2014). If the context of the graduate position is new to the individual graduate, they not only have to grapple with a new organization and all of the challenging aspects of the psychological contract, but having been selected on the basis of their graduate status and not subject specific knowledge, organizations must be especially aware of the need to invest strategically in graduate talent across the first 18 months, to allow space to make the cultural fit as they translate into the new role expectations. Employers should consider how proactive they can be in making the transition from student to employee more effective for both organization and graduate talent. They must be clear about the skills they are looking for from graduates (general and technical) and consider potential proactive partnerships (including work experience opportunities and master class provision) with Higher Education Institutions. This should engage graduates at an early stage with a view to influencing and honing talent requirements for their own pipelines and also unlocking a powerful potential source for promotion of their employer brand.

Why Are Graduates Important in Strategic Talent Management?

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.