Tourism as a Career in Malaysia: Stakeholders' Perceptions
This thesis examines the perceptions of tourism as a graduate career from the view of key stakeholders of tourism - the government, industry, educators and students. It aims to understand what key tourism stakeholders in Malaysia do in promoting tourism as a graduate career, and how students perceive tourism as a career option. The literature suggests that the issue of perceptions of tourism as a career be investigated from the perspective of key stakeholders. Hence, a stakeholder-inclusive approach in tourism human resource development is suggested as a measure to address the skilled labour shortage in tourism and the needs of various stakeholders. An analytical framework has been developed in this thesis to illustrate the relationships and gaps amongst stakeholders and how they view tourism as a graduate career in Malaysia. A total of 11 semi-structured interviews were conducted with senior officials from relevant Ministries, industry bodies, a major employer, and directors of tourism management programs at two public universities and two polytechnics in Malaysia. In addition to that, a questionnaire survey was conducted with 193 final year students of tourism management programs at the same tertiary institutions. The qualitative data was coded into prominent themes while the quantitative data was analyzed using SPSS. This thesis found that the shortage of skilled labour is one of the issues faced by the stakeholders, due to the industry offering low level positions. The government believes that current policies in promoting tourism careers to students were adequate but the industry and educators feel that government does not provide adequate information about career paths in tourism for students. This thesis also discovered that students have generally positive perceptions of tourism as a career. Variables like level of education, willingness to choose a tourism program and overseas travel experience are significant, while the size of the employer, work experience in tourism, and the roles of family and friends working in tourism do not have an influence on students' career-related decisions. All stakeholders play a role in promoting tourism as a career to students but some measures have also been suggested to promote it more effectively.