The hospitality industry in China is facing significant human resource challenges. These include the lack of qualiﬁed employees, high turnover rates among staff, a lack of interest among university graduates to enter the industry, and the gap between the curriculum taught in universities and the realities of the industry itself.
This article draws on research from two distinct studies within a broader research project that investigated the career expectations of Chinese international students and returning graduates.
The data from Study A demonstrate that most of the Chinese international students interviewed modified their career expectations during their studies overseas. Only two students did not do so. One important cause of students changing their career expectations is the lack of suitable work experience which would provide them with relevant insights.
The six graduates interviewed for Study B were relatively satisfied with their current work situation in the Chinese hotel industry and were all working in international brand hotels. However, some of them felt that graduates returning to China generally do not have realistic expectations about the nature of the work.
The following suggestions are provided to assist students and graduates from programmes in the hospitality sector to develop realistic expectations about the work situation in the Chinese hotel industry.
First, universities should help create realistic expectations for international students about their future work prospects – the benefits to the Chinese students in this study would almost certainly benefit all international students more generally.
Moreover, the creation of more alumni community networks in China and Australia for students to meet other Chinese international students and graduates is recommended.
Finally, universities and the industry need to collaborate better to inform students about work in the hotel and hospitality sector. The inclusion of internships as part the university curriculum is recommended as it would benefit international students by helping them develop more realistic expectations about their future careers.
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