Skip to main content

A call for industry-academia collaboration to address the labor shortage challenge

When the pandemic hit, the hospitality and tourism (H&T) industry immediately responded to the crisis with furloughs and layoffs. It did not take long for the industry to realize that it must deal with the labor shortage challenge. In fact, the labor shortage challenge is not new to the H&T industry, but the “Great Resignation” during the pandemic has worsened the situation.  

In one of my recent publications in the Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, I presented three propositions about the labor shortage issue facing the H&T industry. The paper aims to initiate a conversation between our industry leaders and administrators/professors in academic programs with some collaboration ideas. The following are some key ideas. 


The three questions being discussed


  1. Will the worsening labor shortage challenge facing the H&T industry improve in the short term? 
  2. How can industry professionals and academic leaders/professors work together to address the labor shortage issue? 
  3. How can academic research help address the labor shortage challenge? 


The three propositions/conclusions 


To answer the first question, I presented three propositions (P1 – P3) based on a review of relevant business reports and research about the labor shortage situation. I concluded that the H&T industry would likely be one of the slower sectors to recruit its workforce back to employment.


P1: The increasing demands by both organizations and customers have made H&T jobs more challenging and stressful, resulting in more employment separations in the H&T industry. 

P2: As more H&T companies adopt AI-empowered automatic services in operations, new skillsets (e.g., human-machine interactions) are needed to perform the jobs. 

P3: Low labor supply for managerial talents, especially from accredited academic programs, will persist in the H&T industry for at least a few more years. 


Ideas for a stronger collaboration between the hospitality and tourism industry and academic programs 


I presented my recommendations under three primary areas of talent management to answer the second question. Some suggestions are for H&T companies; others are for H&T programs, plus a few collaboration initiatives (as the following). 


Talent acquisition


  1. To feature recent graduates’ positive experience in the industry regularly as a co-branding and content marketing strategy.
  2. To include selective students in companies’ social activities to engage candidates with current employees.
  3. To establish structured college recruitment programs for interns and graduates.
  4. To establish a “work-study” program, supporting employees to go back to school and students to work in the industry.


Learning and Development


  1. To extend the college education program in the industry (e.g., The Disney College Program).
  2. To embed the real industry experience into the students’ learning experience in all courses.
  3. To develop intensive training or certificate programs together for continuous education either at work or in school.
  4. To train faculty with the most updated industry knowledge in a real business setting (e.g., faculty internship).


Talent retention


  1. To co-host cultural activities that involve employees and students.
  2. Present various career options within the industry, encouraging people to stay within the industry even if they do not like their current jobs.


To answer the third question, I made recommendations for academic research. In the end, I echo the reviewers’ comments that it will take more than just industry-academia collaboration to address the worsening labor shortage issue, but I hope my critical reflection, although with a narrow focus on two primary stakeholders of the industry, will become a starting point for a conversation that will eventually spark an on-going and more in-depth discussion to address the labor shortage challenge. 




Kwok, L. (2022). Labor shortage: A critical reflection and a call for industry-academia collaboration. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management,



Popular posts from this blog

Luxury vs. Millennials and Their Technology: The Ritz-Carlton (By Julia Shorr)

Embodying the finest luxury experience, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, LLC has been established since 1983. In 1998, Marriott International purchased the brand offering it more opportunity for growth while being independently owned and operated. They are known for their enhanced service level as the motto states, “Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen”. The luxury brand now carries 97 hotels and resorts internationally and is attempting to keep the aspects of luxury while keeping up with the trends of the technologically improving generations. The Varying Demographics of the Target Market The Ritz-Carlton’s typical target market includes: business executives, corporate, leisure travelers, typically middle-aged persons and elders, and families from the upper and upper-middle class section of society .   This infers a large range of types of travelers in which all are similar in that they are not opposed to spending extra for the luxurious ambiance. However, with

The challenges of SB 93 (California Senate Bill No. 93) will impose on the employers and their human resource management team (by Brittany Schaffer)

The COVID-19 pandemic started in early 2020, and it has caused massive changes within a short period of time. One of the most rememberable effects of the COVID-19 pandemic was that businesses had to come to a complete halt, forcing them to lay off employees. California's unemployment rates went up.  Now that the stay-at-home orders have lifted, people start to come out. Businesses are now reopening, looking to rehire their laid-off employees. Before the pandemic, employers had the option of recalling only a certain number of laid-off employees they would want to rehire based on employees' job performance. That option had been changed after Governor Gavin Newsome signed into law - Senate Bill 93, which went into effect on April 16th, 2021. The California Senate Bill No. 93 (SB 93) According to SB 93, companies in specific industries, mainly the hospitality industry, have the obligation to provide job opportunities in written form to qualified employees being laid off due to COVI

Want to win in future competitions? Invest in data-driven decisions now

Speaking of the permanent changes in the hospitality industry, many people will probably agree that demands for “bleisure”/“work-from-anywhere” travel and contactless self-service will continue to grow in the near future. Not everyone, however, realizes that data-driven decisions will become a key driver for growth in the industry, which has already affected how we do business now.   Automatic service enables businesses to capture more operational and consumer data for business decisions   One advantage of using automatic service comes from its ability to spontaneously capture and store real-time operational and consumer data for additional analysis. In the old-time when businesses still relied on workers to serve customers, operational data were collected usually through careful book-keeping, documentations, and observations; consumer data through market research were often limited to their perceptions, behavioral intentions, or past experience.     Now that automatic service is provi