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Abstract

The development of hospitality and tourism industry in Malaysia leads to aggressive competition within the hotel industry in Malaysia competing to win the fraction of share markets. As a consequences, the need to employ highly talented employees is inevitable. However, it is believed that what academic institution offers were found to be in contrast from the actual business needs. The purpose of this research is to integrate a fully fit graduate competency model that is tailored to the needs and wants of the hotel industry in Malaysia. This research examines several competency models and frameworks to develop a propose model with dimensions that fits the needs of the Malaysian hotel sector. The outcome of the study will provide invaluable cohesive findings from the stakeholders towards the fully fit model that best fit to the Malaysian hotel sector. As a result this study will assist the academic institutions in preparing highly competent workforce to the industry. Key word: Graduate Employability, Graduate Competencies, Competency Model, Hotel Management,
1
1 INTRODUCTION
The travel and tourism is an important industry
worldwide that generates over 250 million
employment opportunities which represents 8 per
cent of the global workforce and contributes to at
least 9 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product
(GDP) (World Travel & Tourism, 2014). The
scenario is evident in many countries where the
industry makes a substantial contribution to the
economic growth, with some countries depends on
hospitality and tourism to spur the growth and
development. The hospitality industry in Malaysia is
experiencing the same progression where there is an
increase in number of tourist arrivals every year,
which leads to growth of hotel accommodations. It is
reported by Tourism Malaysia the number of hotels
has increased from 2724 in 2012 to 3094 the
following year (Tourism Malaysia, 2014) and thus
creating new employment opportunities. Moreover
hospitality and tourism industry has been selected as
one out of the twelve (12) National Key Economic
Areas (NKEA) in the Economic Transformation
Program (ETP) launched in 2010 as part of
Malaysia’s National Transformation Program to
elevate the country to developed-nation status by the
year 2020 (Economic Transformation Programme,
2010). The report forecasted that hospitality and
tourism industry will create at least 465,000 new
employment opportunities by 2020 and 68 per cent
of job created requires vocational, diploma or degree
qualifications (GE Blueprint, 2012).
The hospitality and tourism industry is now
turning to academic institutions for recruitment of
skilled workforce to fill the diverse industry
demands (Eurico, da Silva, & do Valle, 2015).
However, Malaysian hotels are having problems
in attracting and retaining skilled and knowledgeable
workers (Patah, Zain, Abdullah, & Radzi, 2009).
Goldsmith and Zahari (1994) posited that there is
poor transfer rate of graduates into the industry
especially in the hotel sector. Academic institutions
have also been criticized for not effectively
preparing hospitality graduates for employment in
the industry (Sarkodie & Adom, 2015). In
concurrent with that the issue of compensation and
benefits were also found to be among the problems
that contribute to scenario (Lahap, O’Mahony and
Dalrymple, 2014). Thus, it will lead to new
hospitality students having an unrealistic image of
working life in the industry and expect a different
working environment from what the hotel can offer
(Ahmad & Zainol, 2011).
Brown, Arendt, and Bosselman (2014) argued
that many hospitality graduates will tend to leave the
industry once they entered into hospitality academic
institution without accurate understanding of the
industry. Ricci (2005) posited that hospitality
graduates might secure jobs in the industry if they
are provided with true image and perception by the
academic institutions. Study by Weeks and
Muehling (1987) revealed that students with better
understanding and perception of the industry helped
industry recruiters to attract more qualified
workforce. Hence, it is important for the academic
institutions to consider graduates’ competency needs
in order to develop and evaluate a hospitality
An Integration of Graduate Competency Model
R. A. Zain, S. M. Radzi, J. Lahap & D. Abdullah
Universiti Teknologi MARA Malaysia
ABSTRACT: The development of hospitality and tourism industry in Malaysia leads to aggressive
competition within the hotel industry in Malaysia competing to win the fraction of share markets. As a
consequences, the need to employ highly talented employees is inevitable. However, it is believed that what
academic institution offers were found to be in contrast from the actual business needs. The purpose of this
research is to integrate a fully fit graduate competency model that is tailored to the needs and wants of the
hotel industry in Malaysia. This research examines several competency models and frameworks to develop a
propose model with dimensions that fits the needs of the Malaysian hotel sector. The outcome of the study
will provide invaluable cohesive findings from the stakeholders towards the fully fit model that best fit to the
Malaysian hotel sector. As a result this study will assist the academic institutions in preparing highly
competent workforce to the industry.
Key word: Graduate Employability, Graduate Competencies, Competency Model, Hotel Management,
2
program that is relevant to the industry ( Millar, Mao
& Moreo, 2010; Wang & Tsai, 2014).
2 LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 Competency and Competency-Based Education
There are number of researchers offer
demarcations of competencies. Gale and Pol (1975)
defined competency as “the quality of being
functionally adequate in performing the tasks and
assuming the role of a specified position, with the
requisite of knowledge, ability, capability, skill,
judgment, attitudes, and values” (pp. 20). According
to Tas (1988) competencies are activities and skills
considered necessary to perform duties of specific
position. Brophy and Kiely (2002) concurred with
Tas and further include that attitude as
competency. Competency is also defined as the
ability and skill incorporated in training and
education, supporting industry needs for labor and
promoting graduates employability (Le Deist &
Winterton, 2005). Competencies encompasses of
bundle knowledge, skills and abilities that can be
valuable in the world of work (Millar et al., 2010).
Millar et al., 2010, added that these are the specific
characteristics for the students to learn in their
classroom. The word “competency” may be defined
differently depends on perspective in which it is
used (Campion, Fink, Ruggeberg, Carr, Phillips, &
Odman , 2011; Lucia & Lepsinger, 1999; Millar et
al., 2010; Tas, 1988). It is evident that there is no
specific definition for the word “competency”
(Cheng, 2012). Nonetheless, researchers often
defined the word “competency” relates to
“knowledge”, “skill”, “abilities” and sometimes
“attitude” or behavior which consist of observable
performance , standard of outcome of a person’s
outcome and the underlying attitude of a person
(Campion et al., 2011; Millar et al., 2010).
Cheng (2012) stated that in education, the
learning outcome which specifying the desired
outcome of the graduates are competencies. It is
the base for competency-based education (CBE)
(Millar et al., 2010). Competency-based education
expressed by Mayo and Thomas-Haybert (2005) is a
procedure calling for discernible aims, individual
feedback, utilization of various learning styles, and a
mixture of appraisal measures. Competency-based
education focuses on then skills and abilities that
essential to recruiters and highlights the
competencies or behavior that can be improved by
the learners (Millar et al., 2010). The process of
recognizing and determining the required
competencies needs to come from various
stakeholders (Cheng, 2012). Campion et al. (2011)
argued that the process of identifying the right
competencies is through considering organizational
context which is to link competency model with
organizational goals and objectives, starting at the
top, using job analysis methods to develop
competencies and considering future job
requirement.
2.2 Competencies and Hospitality Education
The literature pertaining to student’s core
competencies has been widely discussed within the
hospitality literature. The literature has always
endeavored to find an ideal demarcation between the
roles played by the industry and the academic
institutions. Studies examining the relationship of
hospitality management and industry has found it to
be a complex position. As stated by Airey and Tribe
(2000, p. 277) “in its origins, the education
developed from on the job training in hotels”, thus
recapping its vocational focus which “emphasized
the important links between an educated workforce
and a strong economy…the basis of knowledge
about hospitality originally drew strongly from
studies generated directly from the industry and the
world of work rather than from the many disciplines
or other fields of enquiry which help explain
hospitality” (Airey & Tribe, 2000)
Due to the nature of the industry in which the
multidisciplinary, or for some the interdisciplinary,
educators contended that the industry needs
candidates with abilities to integrate and blend their
skills, knowledge and attitudes. Professionals from
the industry and educators of hospitality management
established that during the 1980’s, stated that the
necessary component of student’s preparation to
graduate competently was to include professional
work experience (Morrison & O'Mahony, 2003).
Evans (1988) in his article entitled “Academic
credibility and the hospitality curriculum”, disagreed
with purist who reprimanded to the of hospitality
education. He argued that their derision for the
professional schools (including hospitality), were
groundless. Evans (1988) posited that academic
institutions designed their curricula to develop “well-
rounded” graduates equipped with diverse
competences.
2.3 Graduate Competencies
In another perspective, Guthrie (2009) categorized
competencies as personal competencies and job
3
competencies and argued that the two should always
be appropriately balanced. Other studies have
divided employability into core items and advancing
items, in which the former refers to core skills that
meet general and various job requirements whereas
the latter refers to the specific skills needed for
certain industries’ and jobs (Ohio State University,
1995). Parallels can be drawn between core skills and
personal competencies’ and between specific skills
and job competencies. Numerous studies have
discussed the relationship between core skills and a
successful career (McCabe, 2008). However, career
success requires both personal and job competencies.
Moreover, many studies have analysed the nature
of employability or competency from the
perspectives of various stakeholders, such as
businesses (Christou, 2002; Millar et al., 2010;
Sisson & Adams, 2013), teachers (Millar et al., 2010)
students (Christou, 2002) and employees (Lane, Puri,
Cleverly, Wylie, & Rajan, 2000). From the
perspective of the employers in hospitality and
tourism industries, employers need cheap and
flexible labour in order to remain viable (Curtis &
Lucas, 2001) however, from the perspective of the
students, work is often an introduction to the world
of work, and their experiences assist with both
personal and career development (Barron &
Anastasiadou, 2009). However, Beard (1995) argued
that the world of work should be more closely linked
with higher education both through formal periods of
supervised work experience and more informally
through students work experiences.
2.4 Competency Model
The usage of competency models in human
resource practice has been around since 1970’s
(Millar et al., 2010). A former Harvard psychologist,
David McClelland developed the first competency
model based upon request by the United States
Information Agency (USIA) to interview their
officers in order to assess their successful
performance (Lucia & Lepsinger, 1999). The
interview are based on competencies (attitudes and
habits) which McClelland believed to be the best
assessment. It resulted in USIA effectively recruiting
candidates with similar habits and attitude (Lucia &
Lepsinger, 1999). Chung-Herrera et al. (2003) stated
that competency models act as a descriptive tools to
identify, categorize and summarize competencies for
employees to perform effectively in an organization
to achieve the required standard. In a nutshell,
competency model is a set of integrated
competencies essential for outstanding performance.
It is a tool that identified the skills, knowledge,
personal characteristics and behaviors needed by an
organizations for their employee to execute
efficiently and help the organizations to achieve
their strategic goals (Lucia & Lepsinger, 1999).
Using competency models provides an
organization with various advantages, such as aid
the process of recruiting and selecting the right
candidates, assessment programs, development of
job descriptions, identifying and developing training
programs, succession planning and curriculum
development (Campion et al., 2011; Cheng, 2012;
Lucia & Lepsinger, 1999). Campion et al. (2011)
recommended augmenting competency models with
the aid of visual will enhance memory and improve
communication of the information presented. Simple
and focused on the core idea competency models
excluding every detail of the model is recommended
when using visual portrayal (Campion et al., 2011).
In hospitality industry, Sandwith’s Competency
Domain Model is one of the most notable and
reliable competency models (Millar et al., 2010).
Competency Domain Model by Sandwith have been
used by researchers to study essential competencies
needed by organization. Sandwith expanded Kazt’s
three-skill approach for effective administrators
omitting the importance of skill level. Sandwith
clustered competencies/skill into five domains: (1)
Conceptual/creative domain, (2) Leadership domain,
(3) Interpersonal domain, (4) Administrative
domain, and (5) Technical domain (Sandwith, 1993).
According to Katz (1955), all three skill areas are
important at every level of administration, but they
“vary in relative importance at different levels of
responsibility” (p. 37). While the idea of Katz’s
typology skill model have been expanded, the skill
model is still relevant in the human resource
management and it is still being acknowledged
(Peterson & Van Fleet, 2004). For the purpose of
this paper, Katz’s three-skill approach will be used.
This approach will be integrated with Sandwith’s
model and will be the conceptual framework as
pictured in Figure 1.
Figure.1: Proposed Graduate competency Model
Graduate Competency Model
Interpersonal
Conceptual- Creative
Technical
Administrative
4
The reason of selecting Katz’s approach is to
adapt the idea of different level of competencies for
different level of administrators in an organization
and modified it to the level of learning outcomes in
the academic Institution. In the model, the level of
education is divided into diploma, bachelor degree
and postgraduate. This is to look into the
development of competencies needed by graduates
at different level of education from the perspective
of the stakeholders; which is the practitioners,
academic institutions and students. As mentioned
above, the model is integrated with Sandwith’s
Competency Domain Model. The five domains in
the model is illustrated in triangles to show different
degree of attention for each of the domain for
different level of education. The model not only can
be used to accommodate academic institutions in
reviewing the curriculum for hotel management
program, it is also hoped to provide guidance for
recruiters to select candidates from various level of
education.
3 IMPLICATION OF THE RESEARCH
The paper explores various literatures and models
on competencies pertaining to graduate
employability in the hotel sector. The paper extends
the literature on how to improve learning outcomes
from the curriculum in the future. This will be
particularly valuable to the Malaysian Hotel Industry
which is an industry that now competes in the
international tourism market. In order to reach this
goal, businesses within Malaysia need skilled and
competent workforce. The aim of this paper is to
assist in improving Malaysia’s competitive position
by providing the research findings to the Malaysian
government and local practitioners and academic
institutions so that the results can be used to improve
skill and knowledge for the industry workforce. In
this way, the study will have a capacity-building role
to assist future economic development within
Malaysia (Lahap, O'Mahony, & Dalrymple, 2014).
As for the hotel industry, this study indirectly
provides literature and finding for future training and
development of human resource competencies
through the process of selecting, recruiting, training
and compensating the right candidates for the job,
reducing the turnover rate in this sector. Hence
improving the quality of service to compete
domestically and internationally.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
This research is funded by Universiti Teknologi
MARA through Fundamental Research Grant
Scheme (FRGS) 600-RMI/FRGS 5/3 (45/2015)
received from Ministry of Higher Education
(MOHE).
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