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NewsStudy reveals ‘misalignment’ between tourism education, industry needs

Study reveals ‘misalignment’ between tourism education, industry needs

AAU partners with Tourism Ministry to develop PhD tourism program in Ethiopia

A new study reveals a significant “misalignment” between Ethiopia’s hotel and tourism education programs and the skills needed by the growing industry.

Ethiopia’s hospitality and tourism sectors are grappling with a shortage of skilled workers, despite the presence of multiple universities and vocational training institutes offering programs in these fields, according to the study conducted as a situational analysis of the hotel and tourism sector in Ethiopia.

The study, backed by the Ethiopian Hotel and Tourism Employers Federation, GIZ, and a Germany-based development organization Sequa, reveal a significant mismatch between the skills and knowledge taught in educational programs in Ethiopia and those required by the country’s hospitality and tourism industries.

The “misalignment” has created a substantial challenge for the sectors, impeding their growth and development.

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Presented at a workshop this week at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, which was attended by officials and stakeholders from hotels and related industries, the study emphasizes on the glaring “lack of practical and hands-on training” found among graduates of Ethiopian universities and vocational schools. The gap is created due to the poor quality of education and poor awareness of the industry, adversely affecting the educational system.

Wubshet Ergetie, a private consultant hired to conduct the study, told workshop participants what he found, that even those who achieve the highest scores prior to university choose not to study the hotel and tourism industries. The few employees with strong experiences and skills in the tourism field are often recruited by new entrants through competitive salary and benefits packages.

“Especially when new hotels are opened, they sweep away or raid the experienced employees of existing hotels,” the study states.

During the last two days of the event, on August 31 and September 1, 2023, findings from the study assessing Ethiopia’s hospitality and tourism sectors were presented and discussed, along with a five-year strategic plan from the Ethiopian Hotel and Tourism Employers Federation.

In attendance were Sileshi Girma, State Minister for Tourism, and Teshale Berecha (PhD), State Minister of Labour and Skills.

Addressing workshop participants, Tourism State Minister Sileshi disclosed that his office is working with Addis Ababa University to launch a PhD program in tourism. The curriculum is currently in its final drafting stage, he said, and officials and scholars will soon hold a workshop with stakeholders.

“Once we launch the program, it will contribute a lot to conducting advanced research to formulate a policy, design strategies, and enhance the general capacity in the sector,” Sileshi said, describing the importance of having PhD programs in tourism.

The Reporter’s several attempts to get further comments from State Minister Sileshi were unsuccessful. 

Led by its president, Fiteh Woldesenbet (PhD), the Ethiopian Hotel and Tourism Employers Federation plans to address through its five-year strategic plan the lack of “adequately trained” workforce in the hotel and catering services.

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