Africa’s hospitality industry is earmarked for substantial growth. Africa’s population now exceeds one billion, of which 350 million are middle class and likely to travel. At the same time, international arrivals have been growing, and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation estimates that Africa will receive 134 million arrivals by 2030.
A glaring disparity
With this projected increase in arrivals, the market is expected to respond with the development of more hotels, resorts and lodges, as well as restaurants and other tourism services. These will all need qualified staff to fill roles such as MDs to managers, front of house, HR, marketing, and PR professionals, to name a few.
Marius Stols of The IIE’s School of Hospitality & Service Management says, “There is a huge need in Africa for academically trained hospitality professionals particularly when one considers that many executive positions in the African hospitality industry are not filled by those from the continent. Recently a training manager at one of the largest hotel groups in the world told me that none of the executive managers of their Africa hotels were from Africa. A big contributor to this disparity was that there were no degree qualified managers available from Africa.”
Sindile Xulu, CEO of TIA360 (Tourism Investment Africa), a platform to mobilise and stimulate investment in Africa’s tourism, says, “It is vital that Africa’s hospitality industry is supported and staffed by professionals from the continent because they are often more culturally aware and sensitive to the needs of local customers. They are also often the first point of introduction to their country for overseas guests, so they are better positioned to offer advice and demonstrate local hospitality.”
Qualifications are an important differentiator
It is still possible to build a career in hospitality without a degree or diploma. However, employers are becoming increasingly selective and those with a degree are preferred candidates for many hospitality positions. A degree demonstrates an ability to learn, while also equipping graduates with skills and knowledge in their chosen field.
With this in mind, degrees such as the Bachelor of Hotel Management (BOHM) can be considered. Offered by The IIE’s School of Hospitality & Service Management, BOHM prepares students for the hospitality industry while also providing them with a wide range of service-oriented skills. “It trains them to think, plan and execute with the consumer in mind,” says Stols.
Rene Hill, MD of The IIE School of Hospitality & Service Management, agrees and says, “By studying hospitality management, students acquire tangible in-demand skills that employers look for in candidates, and not only the upper-level management skills and the operation processes in hospitality, but also marketable skills such as teamwork, leadership, design thinking, finance and budgeting and marketing. Hospitality training also helps develop the communication skills employers expect their employees to use with customers and amongst themselves in any professional hospitality workplace.”
Stols adds, “A hospitality qualification does not bind one to a single industry either. The BOHM is, in essence, a business degree with a hospitality foundation.”