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Study Motivations, Study Preference, and Career Preference: Responses from Asian Hospitality and Tourism Students

Seongseop (Sam) Kim, Director of Education, APacCHRIE Federation

It is axiomatic that education is a long-term plan for advancing a society and institution. This plan starts with a crystal-clear understanding of education recipients’ preferences and motivations. The underlying motivations for studying hospitality and tourism management (HTM) are important to students because their decisions in this respect determine their future job choices, earnings, and opportunities to pursue advanced degrees (Kim, Jung, & Wang, 2016). Likewise, understanding their study and career preferences can help educational administrators to predict labor markets and prepare education services. Students can move to study not merely in a new city or region within a nation, but also to other countries, if they choose to study abroad. Some international educational institutions want to know the educational demands of potential HTM students. For example, it is observed that Asian students have shown a high tendency to study abroad at HTM educational institutions in Switzerland, Australia, the UK, and the USA. Thus, an examination of their study motivations and study and career preferences is useful in predicting educational demands and developing relevant curricula and programs.

According to Kim et al. (2016) study, in which they conducted a survey of about 1,260 undergraduate students from three regional Asian groups (Korean, Taiwan, and Hong Kong), students preferred study for the “lodging industry” (22.5%), the “airline industry” (15.5%), “restaurant management” (13.7%), and “tourism development” (10.0%). A question was asked regarding the most influential person in their decisions to choose HTM as a major and the highest percentage of answers was observed for “self” (71.7%), followed by “parents” (14.4%), and “friends” (5.4%). Motivations for selecting HTM as a major included “personal interest in and preference for working environment”, “foreign culture pursuit”, “practical pursuits”, “ease of study”, “scholastic pursuits”, and “monetary pursuits”. Reasons for choosing to work in the HTM industry included “personal interest and job opportunities”, while reasons for choosing not to work in the HTM industry included “influence of job environment”, “poor job opportunities in the market”, and “low personal interest”. Another question asked about important factors in making a career decision; answers included “job environment benefits”, “opportunity or chance for improvement”, “horizontal and flexible organizational culture”, and “international experience”.

Regarding preference for a country to study abroad, they showed preferences for the USA (28.0%), Switzerland (16.7%), France (13.1%), Japan (10.9%), the UK (9.0%), and Australia (7.7%). A total of 76% of respondents stated they had plans to work in the HTM industry. When asked about the most influential person in choosing a future career, the highest percentage of answers was observed for “self” (71.1%), followed by “parents” (12.9%), and “friends” (7.8%). According to the results of interviews with students, they showcased practical motivations for their study choices. Thus, educational programs should be oriented toward educating students in regard to keeping pace with societal demands and social trends.

The findings of this study are beneficial to various HTM education stakeholders, including potential HTM students, college HTM administrative staff members tasked with recruiting students and developing curricula, and HTM academic staff members who teach students. Furthermore, it is helpful to understand the characteristics of Generation Y, which manifests new study preferences and demands, compared to older generations.

References
Kim, S., Jung, J., & Wang. K. (2016). Hospitality and tourism management students’ study and career preferences: Comparison of three Asian regional groups. Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism Education, 19, 66-84. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhlste.2016.05.002.

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