Workforce Problems in Hotel Industry of Georgia
Travel and tourism is an important key for accelerating and expanding economic development, investment and employment in Georgia. International arrivals and tourism receipts have been increasing dramatically over past years. Georgia has around 1,148 accommodation units with a total capacity of 39,775 beds. Hotels account for 65% of the bed capacity, followed by family houses 17%, and guest houses 13%. International hotel brands are mostly located in Tbilisi, i.e., Radisson, Marriott, Courtyard Marriot, Sheraton, Holiday Inn, etc.
Adhering to international standards and poor service quality are a major issue for privately owned hotels in Georgia; especially for facilities located in different regions, outside major cities. In this regard unskilled administrative and hotel staff is one of main concerns. Hospitality, one of the main priority sectors for the country is challenged by the lack of trained workforce in all major tourist destinations throughout the country. There are number of training centers that offer courses in tourism and hospitality, as well as in related disciplines, but they are of limited number and mostly represented in the capital.
Our recent research, including 36 small and medium private hotel and guest house workforce discovered: (a) Lack of participation of the social partners and civil society in Vocational Education (VET) sector management structures with Government in the development of policy and decision-making process as well as in the whole process of VET from planning to evaluation; (b) A less than comprehensive network of public and private VET providers, in terms of both geographic spread and coverage of a wide range of well-resourced disciplines/specializations, with many inadequately funded and poorly managed, and with variable standards and appropriateness of facilities and often limited availability of up-to-date and quality equipment; (c) Lack of relevance of VET programs to the current and future labor needs of Georgia's growing Tourism and Hospitality industry; (d) Lack of capacity building and professional development of VET educators in line with modern standards and requirements; (e) The low and variable quality of awarded VET qualifications and their lack of recognition by employers and education institutions both locally and internationally; (f) The variable nature of employability of VET graduates with limited access to sustained well remunerated and personally fulfilling job opportunities with the prospect of further career development; (g) VET is not considered as an attractive and rewarding pathway by the population, nor required as a precondition for recruitment by employers.
Developing high performing diverse Tourism and Hospitality workforce shall become the goal for the next 5-10 years of the overall strategy of Georgia, by consistently applying adequate knowledge, skills and abilities for all main professions in tourism and hospitality with relevant training and learning options at vocational education facilities. Tourism and hospitality workforce can only be developed through the quality education and training offered in this sector. The overall vision for the Vocational Education Strategy in Georgia is to establish VET system of excellence in the entire country.