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Why Does the Hospitality Industry of Today Need Versatile and Flexible Talent? While there is no single definition for lifelong learning, the fundamental purpose of it is to ensure a sustainable and long-term career path for hospitality graduates

By Dilip Puri

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Close your eyes. No, really. Close your eyes and try to picture the last time you went out for a meal, travelled, or stayed at a hotel. What do you remember? Gatherings of people of different cultures and backgrounds? Most probably, the check-in counter had somebody having something resolved or maybe being offered a surprise upgrade that made their entire trip. Somebody was calling over the waiter or maître d' to perhaps offer their compliments to the chef. Needless to say, it must have been a bustling, colourful picture.

Life is comprised of the unexpected – and even more so when it brings people together from all walks of life. Those who wish to dedicate their lives to driving experiences for people -those who wish to pursue hospitality – are a special type of person. Those of us who decide to pursue hospitality are the ones who seek challenges and excitement, enjoy the thrill of change and the unknown, and, most of all, love people and the human experience. Hospitality isn't for the faint-hearted – but it rewards those who embrace it like no other industry out there.

What is Hospitality all About?

While it can seem that way on the surface, hospitality is much more than just hotels. It's more than restaurants or travel, too. To put things into perspective, roughly 1 in every 10 jobs across the entire globe falls under the jurisdiction of hospitality. That's 10per cent of all jobs worldwide – around 300 million jobs and counting. That's to show that where there is an experience and an interaction between client and company, there's hospitality. Wherever there's a need for a human connection and for someone to predict reactions to unexpected situations or to understand and listen – there's someone behind the counter, or in an office, or walking the floor with a smile and a desire to help and connect.

Those who wish to succeed in the hospitality industry need to be flexible, determined, and ready for a challenge. The world is comprised of different cultures, different backgrounds, different expectations and different attitudes – and those who choose to pursue a future in it have to be open-minded, welcoming and armed with a strong repertoire of soft skills. Just like there's no manual to life – there's not much of a manual that covers all and every customer service interaction. And that's why the industry needs talent that thinks on its feet and has life skills for every scenario.

Changing Dynamics

With increasing change in both the domestic as well as global market, technology, and customer expectations of the industry itself, the requirements of tourism and hospitality graduates have also undergone significant transformation. Graduates are expected to possess more than just specialised knowledge and skills, but also the capacity to be proactive and to see and respond to problems creatively and autonomously. Both higher education institutes, as well as hospitality companies, need to acknowledge the changes and nuances of postmodern tourism in order to produce graduates that are future-ready and have the skills, knowledge and capacity to adapt to future changes and challenges within the industry.

Modern scholars stress the importance of placing focus on not just specific, standardized knowledge and skills, but on developing graduates' abilities to confront tourism's postmodern changes through an understanding of lifelong learning within a framework that is focused on student affect, thought and action, which takes into account and makes possible the significance of a student's ability to connect with the dynamic tourism world as a whole.

While there is no single definition for lifelong learning, the fundamental purpose of it is to ensure a sustainable and long-term career path for hospitality graduates. When placing long-term focus on the hospitality industry and employment within it, it is crucial to give utmost attention to the "liquidity' of the tourism environment when thinking of the change and reflexivity within it.

These changes are built on the assumption that the hospitality industry is not isolated, closed off the system- in fact, it is a system that is related to the broader human environment in general, in which change is inevitable. With the sustainability of the industry in mind, scholars have emphasised the importance of training graduates in openness towards movement and change in hospitality alongside traditional knowledge and skills. The hospitality industry is rapidly changing and evolving – and needs talent that has the dedication and flexibility to change alongside it more than ever before.

Dilip Puri

Founder, Indian School of Hospitality

Dilip Puri is the Founder of Indian School of Hospitality.
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