THE Covid-19 pandemic is not the first crisis to have hit the tourism and hospitality industry and it will not be the last.
Despite the setbacks posed over the past year, the industry has remained strong and steadfast.
Over the last few months, the sector has sought to enhance its supply chain – from offering travel safety to providing for its workforce, and even supporting local communities.
Industry leaders are seizing the crisis as an opportunity to further enable the sector’s inclusive and sustainable growth but more – especially in terms of a globally coordinated approach – is needed to support the sector’s recovery.
Innovation in international higher education
In relation to tourism and hospitality education, there is a need for internationalising the programme and curriculum, with the objective to prepare and equip students for the challenges of globalisation.
The application of knowledge is primordial for graduates to have successful careers — but an international experience can boost learning experiences and outcomes.
Internationalisation of learning, however, does not happen just by travelling to another country.
International human interactions, from talks and webinars to teaching and peer collaborations, widen the students’ mindset, hence learning.
For instance, the learning experienced by students could eventually come from alliances with esteemed partners, industry linkages, academic staff and of course, a curriculum that is able to develop international approaches and knowledge.
The principle of globalisation should apply to education, and the development of local knowledge by using international exposure will support the country in its socio-economic transformations.
As part of the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 and the Malaysia Education Blueprint (Higher Education), the role of education providers is to equip learners so that they are able to create positive change and impact in the future.
The trend of digitalising education modules and methods presents benefits for teachers and institutions who want to offer students the rigorous education they need to thrive, especially as social distancing, remote working and learning, as well as heightened safety precautions may be here to stay even after countries implement their immunisation programmes to fight the virus.
It does not, however, necessarily encourage students to learn the digital skills required by the industry.
The networked world in which students exist demands an education that prepares students to produce and consume information in a variety of formats. Employers want to hire emerging professionals who understand how to make hard decisions and showcase their leadership abilities, but students need a broad variety of fluencies to be prepared for the 21st century workforce.
Despite the commonly held conception that students are digital natives, research has repeatedly shown that this is not the case.
In our effort to prepare them for their future careers, education institutions must put in place training opportunities and industry collaborations to help students nurture and grow in these skill areas – focusing on developing and enhancing their digital fluency where they can act ethically, responsibly and productively.
Covid-19 has accelerated change in our educational model, shifting from a traditional teaching and learning mode to innovation in internationalisation of higher education and further emphasis on industry-relevant skills – proof of how we can evolve and return to the original meaning of “crisis” as a turning point for better hospitality educational models in the future.
Dr Joaquim Dias Soeiro is the head of the School of Hospitality, Tourism and Events at Taylor’s University. He has over 17 years of academic experience in France and Malaysia. In addition to being Train-The-Trainer (TTT) certified, he is certified in Hotel Industry Analytics (CHIA) and is a Certified Hospitality Educator (CHE) by the American Hospitality Lodging and Education Institute. His areas of research include talent development and capabilities attainment within tourism and hospitality education. The views expressed here are the writer’s own.