Academic journal article Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies

Antecedents of Norwegian Adolescents' Choice of Educational Pathway in Hospitality and Tourism 1

Academic journal article Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies

Antecedents of Norwegian Adolescents' Choice of Educational Pathway in Hospitality and Tourism 1

Article excerpt

Introduction

The tourism and hospitality industry is labor intensive, yet has it problems in attracting, recruiting, and retaining a sufficient and competent workforce (Hom & Kinicki, 2001; Im, 2011; Richardson, 2010). The industry is characterized by a shortage of skilled workers, extensive use of part-time work and unskilled labor force, modest or low pay, and high turnover rates (DAMVAD, 2014; Lam et al., 2003; Mykletun & Fur unes, 2012). Shortage of skilled workforce is further emphasized by the Norwegian federation of hospitality industry owners (NHO). About 58% of the companies within the tourism and hospitality industries report great or some degree of shortage of skilled workforce (Rørstad et al., 2017). Hence, it is of uttermost importance for the industry to attract more and better educated employees. For the industry to attain this goal, information on the factors that govern the educational choices of young pupils is needed. In the case of Norway, the basic career choices are made as early as at the end of compulsory school at the age of 15, when pupils make their choices regarding their educational track in high school. Hence, it would be timely for the industry 'to know more about what potential recruits think about it, in order to provide a basis for attracting the best possible workforce' (Airey & Frontistis, 1997, p. 157).

Yet, previous research (e.g., Getz, 1994; Jenkins, 2001; Kusluvan & Kusluvan, 2000; Richardson, 2009, 2010; Richardson & Butler, 2012; Richardson & Thomas, 2012; Ross, 1991) on the perceptions and attitudes of young people toward work in the industry has mainly been carried out among high school students and even more frequently among undergraduates already enrolled in an educational program within the field. Consequently, these studies may only answer the call in relation to students who are already enrolled in hospitality courses. Furthermore, at these stages of the educational path, important differences may exist between countries, making comparisons and generalizations between studies difficult. Hence, we need information on the factors that govern the choices of 15-16 years old at the time they select their foundation classes in high school. A range of contextual and personal factors, such as the social class of parents and family, are likely to influence such choices (Hegna & Smette, 2016), which may change over time as the social and economic conditions change. For instance, Norway has seen important changes in the labor market over the last decades, with increasing shortages of workforce in general. This was also reflected in the unemployment rate (OECD-norm) of males aged 15-19 years, which was 17.3% in 2003 and 13.2% and 13.3% in 2008 and 2013, respectively, with little lower percentages for females (Albæ k et al., 2015). These numbers included pupils and students having school or studies as their main activity but who had been applying for jobs within the last 4 weeks. Leaving out this group, an unemployment rate of youth 15-19 years was below 5% out of the total population in 2003 and barely 3% and around 2% in 2008 and 2013, respectively.

At this young age, one may expect family and parental influences to be strong, even more so in some social classes than in others. Yet, in many contemporary western countries, such as in Norway, a strong normative value connected to young people's autonomy is embedded both in the educational system and in the greater culture, seemingly overshadowing social class and status (Gullestad, 1996; Hegna & Smette, 2016). In the light of this information, it is concerning that few studies, if any, have addressed younger pupils' beliefs and perceptions of work in the tourism and hospitality industry, for example, at a time when they are about to choose foundation classes for further training, and the ways in which these factors may influence their actual choices of further education.

The Norwegian mandatory school system is comprehensive, which implies that the pupils choose their educational pathways later in their school careers as compared to, for instance, the UK and the Netherlands. …

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