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Labor shortage: a critical reflection and a call for industry-academia collaboration

Linchi Kwok (The Collins College of Hospitality Management, California State Polytechnic University Pomona, Pomona, California, USA)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 2 June 2022

Issue publication date: 21 October 2022




This critical reflection aims to initiate an engaging dialogue about the labor shortage challenge facing the hospitality and tourism (H&T) industry. This paper discusses RQ1. Will the worsening labor shortage challenge improve in the short term? RQ2. How can industry professionals and academic leaders/professors work together to address the labor shortage issue? RQ3. How can academic research help address such a challenge?


RQ1 was answered with three propositions in a critical reflection of relevant news updates, industrial/market reports and carefully selected relevant literature. Suggestions were made to respond to RQ2 and RQ3 in three areas of talent management: talent acquisition, learning and development and talent retention.


The worsening labor shortage challenge will likely continue for some years due to an imbalance in labor supply/demand. The H&T industry should work closely with the H&T programs (one key supplier of managerial talent) to find solutions to the ongoing problem.

Research limitations/implications

This reflection focuses only on preliminary suggestions but could inspire related research endeavors.

Practical implications

This paper suggests numerous industry–academia collaboration initiatives under talent management to address the worsening labor shortage.

Social implications

A strong industry–academia collaboration would address low enrollment in H&T programs, helping them recruit and retain top students. Eventually, a larger student candidate pool for managerial talent could help the industry meet the shifting labor demand.


This timely reflection addresses a critical, worsening labor shortage situation in the H&T industry by offering original ideas and calling for a broader and more in-depth discussion among all H&T stakeholders.



The author wants to thank Drs. Fevzi Okumus and Nazan Colmekcioglu, the journal’s anonymous associate editor, and the reviewers for their constructive feedback and suggestions on my work.


Kwok, L. (2022), "Labor shortage: a critical reflection and a call for industry-academia collaboration", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 34 No. 11, pp. 3929-3943.



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