Although the role of human capital in the hospitality sector is critical, the industry faces challenges in attracting workers with a poor industry image frequently mentioned regarding labor shortages. This research paper attempts to investigate the factors influencing labor shortages by presenting the perspectives of employees and employers.
Precisely 232 rural hospitality industry employees (n = 128) and employers (n = 104) in Northern Italy were surveyed using a written close-ended online survey and a quantitative research design as part of a convenience sampling approach. For hypotheses testing, Spearman's rho was used.
A relationship between the shortage of professional workers and a variety of factors was found, including professional, digital, social and green skills, industry-intrinsic characteristics and symbolic image attributes of the industry. The findings show that some factors are more important for employees, while others are more significant for employers.
This study demonstrates several practical implications for the hospitality sector by addressing the under-researched stakeholder group of existing hospitality employees, e.g. improving working conditions, reduction of manual operations through digital technologies, realistic career planning, employer branding, identification of skill deficiencies and provision of specialized trainings.
Most research on labor shortages in the hospitality industry has focused on the perspective of either employees or employers. This study compares both perspectives, including the industry image, to gain a realistic picture of the relevant factors for a rural tourism destination in Northern Italy.
Innerhofer, J., Nasta, L. and Zehrer, A. (2022), "Antecedents of labor shortage in the rural hospitality industry: a comparative study of employees and employers", Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Insights, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JHTI-04-2022-0125
Emerald Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2022, Johanna Innerhofer, Luigi Nasta and Anita Zehrer
Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at http://creativecommons.org/licences/by/4.0/legalcode
The labor market is becoming more competitive for qualified workers, and the hospitality sector competes with other industries that may appear more appealing at times (Ek Styvén et al., 2022; King et al., 2021; NTG Alliance, 2019). Finding qualified employees is difficult, and many industries experienced a labor shortage (Spiess et al., 2022). However, the hospitality sector has more labor shortages than other sectors (Baum, 2015; Ferreira et al., 2017; Robinson et al., 2019), with poor remuneration, irregular working hours and a negative industry image being among the main reasons (Dalkrani and Dimitriadis, 2018; King et al., 2021; Majhosev and Koteski, 2020; Tfaily, 2018). The pandemic caused by the spread of COVID-19 has exacerbated these conditions (Liu-Lastres et al., 2022). Such problems recruiting professionals (Elshaer and Marzouk, 2019) can affect customer service, operational costs and quality standards (Green and Owen, 2003), and because employee skills have a significant influence on productivity and performance, particularly at the company level (Majhosev and Koteski, 2020), skilled employees are critical to providing quality tourism services that meet consumer needs (Al Ababneh, 2017; Erer, 2020; Khan et al., 2021). The literature has already addressed issues such as labor market trends, high turnover and the low absorption rate of tourism graduates (Anandhwanlert and Wattanasan, 2017; Dogru et al., 2019; Papathanassis, 2020). However, existing studies on skill shortages have primarily focused on either the supply side of employees (Ashton, 2018; Elshaer and Marzouk, 2019; Köşker et al., 2019) or the demand side of employers (Ashton, 2018; Bennett and McGuinness, 2009; Davidson et al., 2011; Tfaily, 2018). To the best of our knowledge, little research has compared both perspectives (Willie et al., 2017), especially in a hospitality setting that includes industry image (Spiess and Zehrer, 2020) and its potential effect on workforce behavioral intentions (Leekha et al., 2014). Furthermore, rural hospitality skills have received little research (Adeyinka-Ojo, 2018). Rural tourism revitalizes the culture and heritage of rural communities while attracting tourists by linking rural areas to their cultural, historic, ethnic and geographical roots (Dimitrovski et al., 2012). This paper investigates the shortage of skilled workers in the rural hospitality industry from the perspectives of employers and employees, as well as the industry's image.
2. Theoretical background and hypothesis development
2.1 Shortage of professional workers in tourism
Due to technological changes that affect tourist travel behavior (UNWTO, 2019) and the industry's employment situation, tourism employers are demanding skilled rather than unskilled labor (Lacher and Oh, 2012).
Changes in value chains, demography, work organization, consumption behavior, and technology have transformed European economies in recent decades (Bertani et al., 2020; European Commission, 2020). According to the literature, the constant evolution of the labor market necessitates the development of new skills (Sondermann et al., 2019; Sousa and Wilks, 2018). Technology has aided these changes and impacted skill demand, and, for these reasons, skills must adapt to compensate for imbalances (Bertani et al., 2020).
The identification of skill needs enables the recognition of potential skill gaps and shortages as well as the anticipation and forecasting of needed skills to meet economic short- and long-term needs (Cedefop, 2015). Skill shortage is defined as a gap between available vacancies and unemployed workers in specific occupations or industries (Adda et al., 2017; Vandeplas and Thum-Thysen, 2019). Lack of job-related specific skills results in a shortage of specific professions (Cappelli, 2015). Real shortages must be distinguished from reported shortages. Despite offering competitive wages to potential candidates, companies report shortages due to below-competitive wages (Cedefop, 2015). As a result, the following hypothesis is derived:
A decrease in professional skills leads to a shortage of professional workers.
The employer's perception of shortages may be based on the employer's inability to offer adequate wages or working conditions to attract the necessary skills (McGuinness et al., 2018). Employer shortages mostly refer to transversal skills, such as interpersonal skills. Rather than the hospitality industry's professional or branch-specific skills, these skills are found to be lacking in employees and candidates (Cedefop, 2020; European Commission, 2017; Jaschik, 2016; Schooley, 2017). Soft skills, defined as an integrated set of intrapersonal and interpersonal skills (Marin-Zapata et al., 2021), are positively related to employee productivity and performance and add value to an organization's success (Clarke, 2016); as such, employers are increasingly demanding such skills (Deming, 2017; Succi and Canovi, 2020).
Future hospitality will require new transversal skills. Digital, social, and green skills are identified as the most important for the industry's future in the NTG Alliance's core skills set framework (Table 1).
Alongside social media and mobile technologies, digital skills encompass using technological devices in the workplace (Carlisle et al., 2021). According to Abou-Shouk et al. (2013), tourism is the largest online category and digital tourism services are a key online commercialization industry because global tourism has grown faster than global trade in the last five years (UNWTO, 2019). Since digital citizens use the Internet or electronic devices to research the information needed to plan and reserve their travel experiences (Amaro and Duarte, 2015; Chung and Koo, 2015; Filieri and McLeay, 2014; Suki and Suki, 2017), the emphasis on employees' ability to adapt to these trends is becoming increasingly important. As more technologically savvy tourists enter the travel industry, businesses can track their preferences over time, build strong bonds with their customers, and boost consumer loyalty (Van Asperen et al., 2018). Because of rapid global changes and constant technological advancements, tourism has begun to embrace specialized methods, implying that digital skills are required (Carlisle et al., 2021; Morosan and Bowen, 2022). Customers' needs and expectations have shifted as technology has advanced (Zhang et al., 2022). As a result, hotels and other tourism-related industries are increasingly in need of highly skilled workers who can meet the technological demands of travelers. Thus, the following hypothesis is derived:
A decrease in digital skills leads to a shortage of professional workers.
Green skills are a broader concept that encompasses unique cognitive resources that can help tourism and hospitality organizations achieve goals by minimizing eco-degradation and increasing environmental impact (Dharmesti et al., 2020; Kalyar et al., 2021). Employee and manager awareness and understanding of sustainability approaches are critical for the successful implementation of the sector's sustainable development (Sorin and Sivarajah, 2021). Many hospitality businesses, however, address sustainable behavior but fail to translate it into specifically required green skills (NTG Alliance, 2019; Unioncamere, 2020). Furthermore, the hospitality industry is transitioning to a more responsible and sustainable tourism experience (Ioannides and Gyimóthy, 2020). As a result of changing consumer needs, future demand for green skills will increase from a sustainable and economic standpoint (NTG Alliance, 2019). Customers, particularly younger generations, are more conscious and prefer accommodations that are environmentally, socially, and economically responsible (Ivanov et al., 2014; Jonckers, 2005). Waste management, energy consumption, efficient resource use, and efficient operations management are all aspects that require conscientious efforts and would not be possible without the proactive behavior of knowledgeable and skilled individuals (Saseanu et al., 2020). Employees should be aware of environmental issues and able to propose solutions. Hotels and other tourism-related businesses consider the ability to recognize an environmental issue and suggest a solution or conform to sustainable standards when hiring. Therefore, the following hypothesis is derived:
A decrease in green skills leads to a shortage of professional workers.
Lastly, social skills, or people skills, is the ability to effectively interact with others (Koc, 2021). More specifically, it is the ability to comprehend and persuade or influence the feelings, beliefs, and actions of others in social situations (Ferris et al., 2001). Strong social skills help people cooperate by understanding others' situations and providing justifications (Ferris et al., 2001). People with strong social skills are also more likely to accurately perceive others' thoughts, appropriately adjust their behaviors to situational demands, and effectively control others' responses (Fligstein, 2001). Good social skills can help employees communicate clearly, discern people's genuine intentions, and successfully manage their behavior in difficult social situations (Alhelalat, 2015). The social skills of hotel employees may vary greatly. While some people have poor social skills, others are better at understanding the thoughts and emotions of others and communicating their ideas. If social skills are how people interact with others, then the tourism industry's success depends on how actors interact with customers. Traveler maturity, expectations, and exposure to outside technological advances drive demand for personalized services. With personalized itineraries, recommendations, and lodging, the possibilities are endless. Hotels and other tourism-related businesses will need people skills (Jiang and Tu, 2022). As such, the following is derived:
A decrease in social skills leads to a shortage of professional workers.
2.2 Image theories
Regarding labor, both negative and positive images influence individuals' behavior when applying for specific jobs (Ghielen et al., 2021; Lievens and Highhouse, 2003). A company becomes appealing to applicants when its image matches the personality and needs of potential employees (Ghielen et al., 2021; Sivertzen et al., 2013). Positive perceptions of a company's performance make it more appealing (Edwards, 2009). Furthermore, a company's employer image influences job satisfaction and employees' intentions to leave (Priyadarshi, 2011).
Potential employees develop preferences for working in specific industries based on the services and products offered or the preferred tasks; additionally, employer branding and industry image are regarded as influencing factors (Wallace et al., 2014; Wilden et al., 2010). The image of a company or product is based on certain beliefs and individual perceptions (Collins and Stevens, 2002). This also applies to industries because people associate certain images with specific businesses or industries based on their beliefs (Wallace et al., 2014). This is especially true for industries with a poor image and difficulty attracting qualified employees (Wallace et al., 2014; Wilden et al., 2010). The hospitality industry generally faces volatile recruiting due to unfavorable industry-specific circumstances (Ashton, 2018; Dalkrani and Dimitriadis, 2018; Ferreira et al., 2017; Majhosev and Koteski, 2020), affecting the industry's perception and image as an employer (Lacher and Oh, 2012). As a result, the industry faces high turnover and labor shortages (Ferreira et al., 2017; King et al., 2021). Thus, we propose:
An increase in the positive characteristics intrinsic to employment in the hospitality industry reduces the shortage of professional workers.
Beach's (1992) image theory provides a basic understanding of how people perceive their environment and make decisions based on that perception. The image theory was developed for both personal and organizational decisions, and it implies that images, as a collection of feelings and knowledge, play a significant role in guiding decision-making behaviors (Beach and Mitchell, 1990). Individuals choose specific organizations by selectively evaluating specific environmental aspects to form an impression and assess one's personal attraction toward it (Ehrhart and Ziegert, 2005). This results in a specific perception of an organization, resulting in different individuals having different perceptions of the same environment (Ehrhart and Ziegert, 2005). These perceptions influence individuals' employment decisions in specific sectors or companies (Ghielen et al., 2021).
Lievens and Highhouse's (2003) instrumental-symbolic framework was introduced to portray the core components of employer brands from the perspective of employees and job seekers (Kumari and Saini, 2018; Lievens et al., 2005; Schwaiger et al., 2021; Van Hoye and Saks, 2011). The framework is based on the basic premise of marketing literature; that people associate brands with symbolic meanings and specific objective functions (Aaker, 1997; Keller, 1993). Existing research has examined the impact of various factors on the attractiveness of organizations as potential employers (Ehrhart and Ziegert, 2005; Hoppe et al., 2021; Renaud et al., 2016). The instrumental-symbolic framework can be used to classify these factors (Hoppe et al., 2021; Kumari and Saini, 2018; Schwaiger et al., 2021).
According to the framework, images have instrumental and symbolic dimensions. First, the instrumental image is physical and has objective practical value. It refers to objective job characteristics such as benefits, compensation, and advancement opportunities, and is linked to an individual's desire to minimize costs while maximizing benefits (Highhouse et al., 2003; Knox and Freeman, 2006). Second, symbolic image dimensions are comprised of subjective characteristics such as prestige, pride, competence, or innovativeness (Kumari and Saini, 2018; Lievens and Highhouse, 2003; Van Hoye and Saks, 2011) and is concerned with how people perceive a brand and form opinions about it, rather than analyzing its objective characteristics (Keller, 1993; Knox and Freeman, 2006).
These characteristics can be viewed as important components of an employer's image. It has been discovered that both the instrumental and symbolic dimensions have a significant impact on organizations and their employer-attractiveness (Highhouse et al., 2003; Kumari and Saini, 2018). If a company's image attributes meet the expectations of potential employees, they may consider the company as a potential employer (Highhouse et al., 2003). However, the instrumental-symbolic framework has been applied during recruitment processes from the perspective of potential rather than current employees (Schwaiger et al., 2021). Thus, the following is proposed:
An increase in the poor employer image reduces the shortage of professional workers.
3.1 Research instrument
Following a thorough review of the literature, 31 items were developed and classified into seven categories: the shortage of professional workers (4 items) (Cappelli, 2015; Green, 2016; Quintini, 2011), digital skills (5 items) (NTG Alliance, 2019), social skills (4 items) (NTG Alliance, 2019), green skills (3 items) (NTG Alliance, 2019), professional skills (3 items) (Cedefop, 2020; Jaschik, 2016; Schooley, 2017), instrumental attributes of employment (6 items) (Lievens and Highhouse, 2003; Spiess and Zehrer, 2020; Zopiatis et al., 2014), and symbolic image attributes (6 items) (Cavazotte et al., 2012; Kusluvan and Kusluvan, 2000; Spiess and Zehrer, 2020). All the items are in Appendix. The Kaiser/Meyer/Olkin (KMO) test and Bartlett's test of sphericity were used to assess the adequacy of the component analysis for these items. The Bartlett's test, with a result of 2,455.490, df 465, significance at p < 0.000, supported the suitability of the factor analysis, and the KMO test provided assurance for the overall measure of sampling adequacy, which was 0.841 (>0.50). As a result of the principal component analysis, the 31 items can be classified into seven groups with eigenvalues greater than 1. The seven-factor solution accounted for 61.85% of the variation. These items were rated on a 5-point Likert scale, with 1 representing the most disagreement and 5 representing the most agreement. Two hospitality academics reviewed the survey and made grammatical and structural changes to make the claims more understandable and credible.
3.1.1 Samples and data collection
A representative sample is used to collect data (Bernhard, 2000). Employers are referred to as “demanders” in the sample, and employees are “suppliers”. The rural hospitality industry in Northern Italy, specifically the capital of Bolzano in South Tyrol, is composed of 10,399 facilities such as hotels and restaurants (IDM, 2020) and employs over 38,400 people, accounting for 15% of the region's full-time equivalents (WIFO, 2019). Another distinguishing feature of the destination is its German-Italian bilingualism, which is rooted in the area's historical development. As such, data collection was done in German. The original questions were translated and modified into English using back-translation processes (Brislin, 1970). Survey participants are primarily recruited through social media platforms and through local hotel and restaurant cooperatives. Aside from the hotel and restaurant cooperatives that forwarded the survey to their members, 210 restaurants and hotels were contacted directly via Facebook and Instagram messenger.
The authors used a convenience sampling approach due to accessibility, resulting in 232 surveys of employers (n = 104) and employees (n = 128). Among the non-probability sampling approaches, the convenience sampling technique is the most used. We chose this method because of the impossibility of obtaining a complete list of all population elements. The hospitality industry is characterized by strong seasonality in employment, which complicates obtaining information on both employees and employers. A closed-ended online survey in written form was used to collect data. A pre-test was conducted with four independent people, two females and two males of different ages and with distinct roles as employees and employers. The pre-test was used to improve the survey's validity and reliability. The goal was to ensure that respondents interpreted and responded to questions appropriately, that is, in accordance with the study's intentions. The pre-test assisted in determining whether respondents understood the questions and had all the necessary information while also providing more direct proof of the survey data's validity for most of the interview items. Based on the responses, the pre-test revealed that the survey items were clear, with only a few issues with sentence structure. Following completion, the main study began on June 12, 2021, and ended on June 25, 2021.
To reduce social desirability bias and common method variance, we guaranteed participants' anonymity and researchers' confidentiality, including voluntary and uncompensated participation (Podsakoff et al., 2003). We also performed the Harman single-factor test, which involves loading all of a study's measures into an exploratory factor analysis and assuming that common method variance is indicated by the emergence of a single or general factor accounting for most of the covariance among measures (Podsakoff et al., 2003). Method bias was not a major issue, as the first factor explained only 26.14% of the variance. The highest intercorrelation in the discriminant validity test was 0.619 (Table 2), and none of them were 0.9 or higher. Analysis shows that common method variance has no effect on findings.
Our model's convergent validity is evaluated by factor loadings, Cronbach's Alpha, Composite Reliability, and Average Variance Extracted (AVE). Items with cross loadings or that don't load on a single factor (0.40) should be removed. Table 3 shows that nothing was eliminated because loadings were above 0.40. Table 3 shows that all CA values were above 0.5. A CA of 0.5 is acceptable when only a few items are used to create the construct, which is our case. Three of six constructs had CR values above 0.6 and AVE values above 0.5. (2013). AVE less than 0.5 but CR greater than 0.6 indicates adequate convergent validity.
4. Data analysis and results
Table 4 shows that 65.10% of the participants are female (34.90%). 18–61-year-olds participated. The cumulative age percentage showed the participants were young. 33% of the sample was under 25, 66% under 33, and 95% under 55. 5.2% of participants had a secondary school degree, 11.6% had a professional certificate after three years of high school, 7.3% had a professional diploma after four years, 47.80% had a high school diploma after five years, and 27.6% had a university degree.
44.80% of respondents are employers and/or owners, while 55.2% are employees. Only 15% of employers are permanent full-time, while 85% are self-employed. 28.90% of employees are full-time, and 3.90% are part-time. Seasonal and temporary employment is 45.30% full-time and 5.50% part-time. 7% work on-call, 0.8% completed an apprenticeship, and 2.30% an internship. 6.30% of employees reported being self-employed.
Nearly 60% of establishments are classified as accommodation, 21.10% as catering, and 19% as both. 93% of 215 respondents work for a family-owned business. 63% of 215 family businesses were hotels.
4.1 Hypotheses testing
The Spearman-correlation statistical test was conducted using SPSS software and to determine the relationship between the variables.
According to Table 5, the Spearman-correlation between professional skills and the shortage of professional workers yields significant results from both the employees' and employers' points of view. The general level of skills in the hospitality industry correlates moderately (r = −0.221) and significantly (p < 0.024) with the lack of professional workers in the regional labor market for employers. Additionally, the correlations of general level of skills in the hospitality industry for both groups are moderate (r = −0.226 for employees and r = −0.224 for employers) with low number of applicants with the required skills and significance is found for both groups (p < 0.010 for employees and p < 0.022 for employers). General level of skills also provides highly significant results with deficits between current skill levels of existing workforce and the optimum level of skills required for employees (p < 0.000) and employers (p < 0.005); the correlation for employees is strong with an r-value of −0.313 while the correlation for employers is moderate with an r-value of −0.274. Significant results were found between the item ability to cope with daily tasks and low number of applicants with the required skills for employees (p < 0.038), but the correlation was moderate (r = −0.183). The item deficits between current skill levels of existing workforce and the optimum level of skills required yields highly significant results with ability to cope with daily tasks for employees (p < 0.002) and significant results for employers (p < 0.018); however, the correlation is moderate (r = −0.267 for employees and r = −0.231 for employers). The correlation between ability to cope with extraordinary tasks and deficits between current skill levels of existing workforce and the optimal level of skills required for the subgroup of employees is significant (p < 0.012) and moderate (r = −0.221). Similarly, the correlation is significant (0 < 0.079) and moderate (r = −0.173) for the employers. Therefore, H1 is supported for both employees and employers.
The results of digital skills and the shortage of professional workers are in Table 6. The correlation between using MS Office and the difficulty in finding skilled and qualified employees, despite the provision of attractive wages/conditions is moderate (r = 0.205) for the subgroup of employees (p < 0.030). Using MS Office also correlates significantly with low number of applicants with the required skills for the sub-groups of employers (p < 0.050 and r = −0.198).
Using social media and review sites for business purposes once again yields a significant result for difficulty in finding skilled and qualified employees, despite the provision of attractive wages/conditions; however, the significance is limited to the subgroup of employees (p < 0.038) at a moderate correlation (r = 0.195). Using property management systems and electronic point of sales-systems and the item deficits between the currently available and the optimum level of skills required of the existing workforce produce significant results for the employees (p < 0.031) and employers (p < 0.077) both with a moderate correlation (r = −0.204; r = −0.179); it also produces significant results with the subgroup of employees (p < 0.024) for difficulty in finding skilled and qualified employees, despite the provision of attractive wages/conditions and a moderate correlation (r = 0.213).
Handling basic digital security measures correlates significantly with deficits between the currently available and the optimum level of skills required of the existing workforce for the subgroup of employees (p < 0.099 and r = −0.157). Therefore, H2 is supported for both employees and employers.
Table 7 presents the empirical results of the correlation analysis of green skills. Two of the three variables, namely sustainable-responsible daily behavior (p < 0.047), knowledge about digital technologies to improve the use of resources for sustainability (p < 0.036), provide moderate correlation (r = −0.196; r = −0.213) for the variable deficits between current skill levels of existing workforce and the optimal level of skills required. Nonetheless, this is restricted to a subset of employers. Minimize environmental impact on daily business correlates significantly with low number of applicants with the required skills. Also, in this case, this is limited to the subgroup of employers (p < 0.075 and r = 0.176). Consequently, H3 is partially supported, as green skills do impact the shortage of professional workers for employers, but not employees.
Table 8 displays the correlation analysis results for social skills. The items communication skills (p < 0.000) with a strong correlation (r = 0.317), collaboration skills (p < 0.030) with a moderate correlation (r = 0.193), conflict management (p < 0.053) with a moderate correlation, and foreign language skills (p < 0.086) with a moderate correlation (r = −0.152) show significant results for the subgroup of employees with a small number of applicants with the required skills. Except for the variable of foreign language skills, all the tested variables show significant results and moderate correlations for employees with reference to the variable deficits between the currently available and the optimum level of skills required of the existing workforce. In particular, the item communication skills demonstrates a p-value of 0.000 and an r-value of −0.361; conflict management demonstrates a p-value of 0.001 and a r-value of −0.288; and collaboration skills demonstrates a p-value of 0.000 and a r-value of −0.338. With a moderate correlation (r = −0.224), foreign language skills correlates significantly with low number of applicants with the required skills (p < 0.022) and with deficits between the currently available and the optimum level of skills required of the existing workforce (p < 0.065) from the perspective of employers. The findings support H4 for both the employees and the employers.
Table 9 shows the results for the instrumental characteristics of the industry. Three instrumental attributes provide significant results for the variable lack of professional workers in the regional labor market: adequate work intensity and workload (p < 0.021) and good social security and social advantages based on collective agreements (p < 0.021) for employees; adequate and fair compensation according to individual experience, skills, and commitment (p < 0.049) for the subgroup of employers. The correlations between the variables in question are moderate (r = −0.204; r = −0.204; r = 0.193). The item deficits between the currently available and the optimum level of skills required of the existing workforce shows significant results for employees in relation to the item adequate work-life balance with flexible and adequate working hours with a p-value of 0.002 and a moderate correlation (r = −0.270); for adequate work intensity and workload the significance is very high with a p-value of 0.000 and a strong correlation (r = −0.331); also adequate and fair compensation according to individual experience, skills, and commitment is significant (p < 0.014) with a moderate correlation (r = −0.217). However, only generally good earnings opportunities demonstrate significant results for the subgroup of employers (p < 0.008) with a moderate correlation (r = 0.257). Difficulty in finding skilled and qualified employees, despite the provision of attractive wages/conditions results in statistically significant correlations with the following variables: generally good earning opportunities (p < 0.002) and adequate and fair compensation according to individual experience, skills, and commitment (p < 0.005) for the subgroup of employees; for the subset of employers adequate work intensity and workload (p < 0.009), good social security and social advantages based on collective agreements (p < 0.016), and employment in hospitality offers job security on the long term (p < 0.027) are significantly correlated with moderate strength (r = 0.255; r = 236; r = 217). Generally good earning opportunities (p < 0.001; r = 0.317) and adequate and fair compensation according to individual experience, skills, and commitment (p < 0.000; r = 0.386) demonstrated extremely significant results with strong correlations. Consequently, the results support H5 for both the employees and the employers.
Table 10 shows that deficits between the currently available and optimum level of skills required of the existing workforce demonstrate highly significant results for employees (p < 0.005) in terms of the variable higher attractiveness of hospitality-establishments that implement socially, environmentally, and ethically responsible measurements with a moderate correlation (r = 0.246). It also correlated significantly with the subgroup of employees with the provision of good social involvement and relations with managers and team (p < 0.059) and hospitality-establishments emphasis on socially, environmentally, and ethically responsible daily business (p < 0.074), with a moderate effect for both variables (r = 0.167; r = 0.159). Difficulty in finding skilled and qualified employees, despite attractive wages/conditions, correlates significantly with both employees (p < 0.067) and employers (p < 0.019) with the provision of good social involvement and relations with managers and team (r = 0.162; r = 0.229). It also correlates with pride in working in the hospitality industry (p < 0.078), provision of a positive environment based on flexibility, mutual recognition, and feedback-culture (p < 0.057), and hospitality-establishments emphasis on acting socially, environmentally, and ethically responsible in daily business (p < 0.006). Therefore, the results support H6 for both the employees and the employers.
5. Discussion and conclusions
This study seeks to determine which factors influence the shortage of professional workers in the hospitality industry, and to what extent this is impacted by the sector's image.
First, the results indicate that both skill gaps and genuine skill shortages occur, with the latter occurring when shortages occur despite the provision of competitive conditions (Cedefop, 2015). Employers have difficulty finding workers with adequate skills, and this applies to all skill levels and types (Brunello and Wruuck, 2019). Both factors were found to contribute to the shortage. Discrepancies in required skill levels can be attributed to the theoretical concept of vertical skill mismatch in the form of skill shortages, whereas for skill types, it can be assumed that candidates do not possess the appropriate skills for the current position, which relates to horizontal mismatch (Gambin et al., 2016; McGuinness et al., 2018).
Our findings indicate that each of the tested hypotheses is significant. Therefore, a tendency can be inferred from the fact that the corresponding correlations for the confirmed alternative hypothesis appear to be generally moderate.
The level of professional skills is viewed favorably by both employers and employees, but challenges exist regarding the availability of the appropriate skill types in the labor market. According to our results, the level and type of professional skills (Cappelli, 2015; Green, 2016; McGuinness et al., 2018; Quintini, 2011) are a factor in the shortage of professional workers.
To compensate for the lack of required skill types, individuals with varying skill levels are hired (Lacher and Oh, 2012). On the contrary, this also means that employees with inadequate qualifications and/or skills can still find attractive employment opportunities in the hospitality industry. This complements the current situation, as the hospitality industry is frequently referred to as an entry-level occupation for young people (Iorgulescu et al., 2020; Strietska-Ilia and Tessaring, 2005).
Even though they are developed at different levels, the three fields of digital, green, and social skills show significant correlations with the shortage of professional workers. For digital skills, it has been discovered that they do impact the shortage of professional workers. According to the literature, SMEs, in particular, lack in digital skills (CSES, 2016; European Commission, 2017). According to the study findings, this is also true for the rural hospitality industry in Northern Italy, with digital skills falling far short of the industry's daily requirements. This could be related to the fact that SMEs, in particular, outsource social media, online marketing, and other digital measurements (Paraskevas, 2002). This is likely to apply to the hospitality industry under consideration, as there are numerous specialized marketing agencies, alongside various hotels and gastronomy associations and consortia (Eurac, 2020).
Green skills can also be considered as influencing factors in the shortage. Green skills are expected to become more important in the hospitality industry, and given the importance and urgency of sustainability, this should already be the case (Ivanov et al., 2014; Jonckers, 2005; NTG Alliance, 2019; Unioncamere, 2020). Our findings confirm that some green skills are required for hospitality jobs, particularly the adoption of sustainable-responsible daily behaviors and knowledge of technologies ready to improve resource use concerning sustainability. This is especially important for employers who are already engaged in sustainability practices at various levels of their organizations, but it is also important for employees to be more appealing in hiring processes performed by hospitality firms.
Some intriguing findings can be drawn from the perceptions of employees and employers regarding social skills. Communication, conflict resolution, collaboration skills, and foreign language abilities are important social skills to employees. Foreign language ability is also a significant social skill for employers. This reflects the importance of intercultural communication skills as a tool for improving hotel service quality (Yang et al., 2022). Regardless of how these skills are evaluated, the provided skill levels are found to be in line with the current requirements of today's hospitality businesses based on the responses (Jaschik, 2016; Schooley, 2017).
According to the literature, the general circumstances of employment in the hospitality industry are a strong influencing factor (Brotherton and Wood, 2008). This line of thought is supported by our findings. Work-life balance, work intensity and workload, earning opportunities, adequate compensation, job security, social security, and social benefits are all significant factors for employees' or employers' sub-groups. As a result, it can be stated that perceived industry benefits lead to fewer shortages of professional workers (Brotherton and Wood, 2008; Brunello and Wruuck, 2019; Quintini, 2011). Although they do not share the same influencing factors regarding characteristics, both sub-groups agree on this statement.
For the hospitality industry's image, 46.60% of the total sample believes it is good or very good, whereas 36.60% believes it is poor or very poor. The descriptive analysis reveals that many of the image-variables mentioned do not provide relevant differences in perceptions between employees and employers. Employees, on average, rate the image slightly lower, which complements the findings of a similar study conducted for the hospitality industry in Bavaria, Germany (Schwaiger et al., 2021).
Spearman-correlation analysis for subgroups of employees and employers shows that employees are more focused on the features of the hospitality industry that make it more appealing regarding social, environmental, and ethical measurements as a tool to reduce the gap between the currently available and optimum level of skills required of the existing workforce in the studied area. Employers, who face daily business responsibilities, see hospitality organizations' emphasis on social, environmental, and ethical responsibility as a barrier to finding and retaining skilled and qualified employees, despite attractive wages and conditions. Organizations that have begun a path of financial, social, ethical, and environmental sustainability need human resources that can integrate into these complex and new processes. Complexity of tasks requires skills that are hard to find on the job market.
5.2 Theoretical implications
Unlike previous research on skill shortages in the hospitality industry, which focused solely on the supply or demand side, this study examines both the employees' and employers' perspectives concurrently. This article determines whether there is a difference in perception among those involved in the sector with regard to the various factors that explain the shortage of professional workers. As a result, the findings support the initial hypotheses regarding the important relationship between professional, digital, green, and social skills and professional worker shortages. Discrepancies in required skill levels, i.e. vertical or horizontal skill mismatch, influence skilled worker shortages (McGuinness et al., 2018), which our study confirms. Furthermore, this study is among the first to compare both perspectives while also considering the industry image, addressing a research gap. The study, in particular, distinguishes between instrumental and symbolic dimensions and attempts to apply these factors to the image of the rural hospitality industry, lending support to Lievens and Highhouse (2003), who suggested that people associate symbolic meanings, but also specific objective functions, with brands. The findings show that both dimensions can influence the shortage of professional workers, but employers and employees prioritize different factors. As a result, we supplement this limited research by discovering differences in employee and employer perceptions of instrumental and symbolic attributes. Finally, most available research focuses on urban areas, whereas this study examined skills in rural hospitality because it is critical to deepen the collective understanding of the rural hospitality industry as a viable employment option.
5.3 Practical implications
High turnover and an impending labor shortage have made recruiting new employees a priority. This study addresses the under-researched stakeholder group of existing hospitality employees, particularly skill deficiencies. In today's competitive hospitality industry, high-quality staff is crucial for providing memorable guest experiences and business success. This is especially important in rural hospitality, where employee skill sets contribute to attracting tourists (Dimitrovski et al., 2012). Based on our findings, hospitality employers can identify and implement practical solutions to mitigate the shortage of skilled workers, such as improving working conditions in general, investing in digital technologies to reduce manual operations (Carlisle et al., 2021) and facilitate realistic career planning (Goh and Okumus, 2020). It is important to note that strategic human resource management focuses on allocating the right resources to meet a company's future needs in light of its structure, culture, values, and commitment to deliver long-term value to the organization and its stakeholders. As a result, businesses must invest in the development of their employees as a critical asset (King et al., 2021; Omondi-Ochieng, 2018). However, strategic human resource management must allocate the appropriate human resources to meet the company's future needs.
Furthermore, employees with insufficient skills for their occupation increase the workload on the remaining staff. Thus, it is critical for the HR department to identify such skill deficiencies to achieve optimal matching between the skills provided and those required at the workplace through specialized training and workshops (Waqanimaravu and Arasanmi, 2020).
Furthermore, employers may consider how their industry's image needs to change to gain a positive perception from current and potential new employees to deal with the long-term shortage of professional workers. Employer branding as a strategic approach for companies in the industry can help to improve the overall image (Gehrels et al., 2016).
Policymakers may also benefit from our findings, which may assist in identifying the best focal points for strategies promoting the hospitality sector, such as through hospitality education.
5.4 Limitations and future research
There are several limitations to the study. The first relates to the target group's selection, which is limited to current employees and employers. It may be necessary to include future and former industry employees to conduct a comprehensive and holistic evaluation.
Second, the elaborated conceptual model only applies to influencing factors from the employee's perspective; thus, the question arises as to whether qualitative research on influencing factors from the employer's perspective is still required, given that the factors derived from the literature were, with few exceptions, limited to employees (Lievens and Slaughter, 2016; Tanwar and Prasad, 2016).
Finally, some intriguing trends and findings have been identified in the rural hospitality industry in Northern Italy. However, due to the diversity of potential labor-related aspects in comparison to other rural destinations, generalizing information is not advised. Additional research with a larger sample size is required.
Furthermore, investigating additional relationships may provide insights into industry employment. These include studies on marital status and gender on employment, especially for assessing industry characteristics or comparing non-family and family businesses. In addition to the previously mentioned aspect, comparing the image of tourism among former, current and future hospitality employees can provide useful insights into identifying measures to improve the image. The shortage of professional workers can also be analyzed by education level and job position to compare executive and low-level positions. Future research could also consider hotel category to compare luxury and budget hotel employees and employers.
Summary of the NTG Core Skills Set framework of digital, green, and social skills in hospitality industry
|Skills||NTG - core skills set|
|Digital Skills||Computer/Mobile devices; MS Office; digital communication; online booking/reservation systems; social media/online review sites; digital security measurements; property management/electronic Point of sales systems|
|Social Skills||Communication skills; conflict management; collaboration; Customer care/service skills; foreign languages; intercultural sensitivity; personal skills, e.g. emotional intelligence and reliability|
|Green Skills||Minimization of environmental impact; recycling/waste management; responsible daily behavior; optimization of resource-usage|
Note(s): Own representation, data based on Core Skills Set elaborated by NTG Alliance (NTG Alliance, 2019, pp. 31, 46, 66) for the hospitality sector
|Shortage of professional workers||Professional skills||Digital skills||Green skills||Social skills||Instrumental attributes of employment||Symbolic image attributes|
|Shortage of professional workers||0.683|
|Instrumental attributes of employment||0.306||0.298||0.083||0.140||0.199||0.672|
|Symbolic image attributes||0.142||0.262||0.096||0.044||0.186||0.619||0.733|
|Factor loadings||Cronbach's alpha||Composite reliability||Average variance extracted (AVE)|
|Shortage of professional workers||0.621||0.767||0.466|
|Low number of applicants with the required skills (Skill Shortage)||0.401|
|Deficits between the currently available and the optimum level of skills required of the existing workforce (Skill Gap)||0.698|
|Difficulty in finding skilled and qualified employees, despite the provision of attractive wages/conditions||0.776|
|Lack of professional workers on the regional labor market||0.791|
|Employees are able to cope with daily tasks of their job role by using their skills||0.751|
|General level of skills in hospitality industry||0.841|
|Employees are able to cope with extraordinary tasks or situations of their job role||0.85|
|Using property management systems and electronic point of sales-systems||0.768|
|Using MS Office||0.785|
|Handling online booking and reservation systems||0.821|
|Using social media and review sites for business purposes||0.831|
|Handling basic digital security measures||0.904|
|Minimize environmental impact in daily business||0.493|
|Knowledge about digital technologies to improve the use of resources for sustainability||0.555|
|Sustainable-responsible daily behavior||0.876|
|Foreign language skills||0.448|
|Instrumental attributes of employment||0.838||0.867||0.526|
|The work intensity and workload are adequate||0.583|
|Hospitality-jobs offer an adequate work-life balance with flexible and adequate working hours||0.593|
|Employment in hospitality offers job security on the long term||0.666|
|Employment in hospitality provides good social security and social advantages, based on collective agreements||0.717|
|Offers generally good earning opportunities||0.859|
|Offers adequate and fair compensation according to individual experience, skills, and commitment||0.879|
|Symbolic image attributes||0.841||0.87||0.537|
|Enjoying the social aspect of direct customer interaction with guest||0.521|
|Hospitality-establishments that implement socially, environmentally, and ethically responsible measurements are more attractive in terms of employment||0.605|
|Taking pride in working in hospitality industry||0.65|
|Hospitality industry provides good social involvement and relations with the managers and the team||0.801|
|Hospitality-jobs encourage a positive environment based on flexibility, mutual recognition, and feedback-culture||0.864|
|Hospitality-establishments emphasis on acting socially, environmentally, and ethically responsible in the daily business||0.879|
Profile of respondents
|Age in years|
|Highest educational degree|
|Professional certificate after 3 years of Senior School||27||11.60|
|High School Diploma||17||7.30|
Overview of empirical research-results for the Spearman-rho correlation analysis of professional skills on the shortage of professional workers
|Lack of professional workers on the regional labor market||Low number of applicants with the required skills||Deficits between current skill levels of existing workforce and the optimum level of skills required|
|General level of skills in hospitality industry||−0.098||0.269||−0.221*||0.024||−0.226*||0.010||−0.224*||0.022||−0.313**||0.000||−0.274**||0.005|
|Ability to cope with daily tasks||−0.114||0.202||−0.094||0.341||−0.183*||0.038||−0.098||0.320||−0.267**||0.002||−0.231*||0.018|
|Ability to cope with extraordinary tasks||−0.035||0.697||−0.154||0.118||−0.024||0.790||−0.030||0.761||−0.221*||0.012||−0.173+||0.079|
Overview of empirical research-results for the Spearman-rho correlation analysis of digital skills on the shortage of professional workers
|Low number of applicants with the required skills||Deficits between the currently available and the optimum level of skills required of the existing workforce||Difficulty in finding skilled and qualified employees, despite the provision of attractive wages/conditions|
|Using MS Office||0.034||0.722||−0.198*||0.050||−0.097||0.307||−0.063||0.535||0.205*||0.030||0.088||0.389|
|Handling online booking and reservation systems||−0.003||0.972||0.058||0.573||−0.154||0.109||−0.073||0.482||0.152||0.112||0.141||0.170|
|Using social media and review sites for business purposes||0.096||0.310||−0.053||0.604||−0.007||0.941||−0.011||0.913||0.195*||0.038||0.087||0.394|
|Handling basic digital security measures||0.048||0.619||0.055||0.595||−0.157+||0.099||−0.140||0.176||0.141||0.141||0.037||0.722|
|Using property management systems and electronic point of sales-systems||−0.030||0.752||0.057||0.574||−0.204*||0.031||−0.179+||0.077||0.213*||0.024||0.118||0.249|
Overview of empirical research-results for the Spearman-rho correlation analysis of green skills on the shortage of professional workers
|Low number of applicants with the required skills||Deficits between the currently available and the optimum level of skills required of the existing workforce|
|Minimize environmental impact in daily business||0.054||0.548||0.176+||0.075||−0.022||0.804||−0.122||0.220|
|Sustainable-responsible daily behavior||0.009||0.921||−0.160||0.107||−0.100||0.267||−0.196*||0.047|
|Knowledge about digital technologies to improve the use of resources for sustainability||0.025||0.790||−0.070||0.493||−0.068||0.463||−0.213*||0.036|
Overview of empirical research-results for the Spearman-rho correlation analysis of social skills on the shortage of professional workers
|Low number of applicants with the required skills||Deficits between the currently available and the optimum level of skills required of the existing workforce|
|Foreign language skills||−0.152||0.086||−0.224*||0.022||−0.139||0.117||−0.181||0.065|
Overview of empirical research-results for the Spearman-rho correlation analysis of instrumental attributes of the industry on the shortage of professional workers
|Lack of professional workers on the regional labor market||Difficulty in finding skilled and qualified employees, despite the provision of attractive wages/conditions|
|Adequate work-life balance with flexible and adequate working hours||−0.131||0.140||−0.100||0.315||−0.270**||0.002||−0.059||0.552||−0.045||0.612||0.157||0.112|
|Adequate work intensity and workload||−0.204*||0.021||−0.051||0.609||−0.331**||0.000||−0.030||0.763||−0.043||0.627||0.255**||0.009|
|Generally good earning opportunities||−0.018||0.840||0.120||0.223||−0.103||0.249||0.257**||0.008||−0.276**||0.002||0.317**||0.001|
|Adequate and fair compensation according to individual experience, skills, and commitment||−0.012||0.897||0.193*||0.049||−0.217*||0.014||0.098||0.325||0.249**||0.005||0.386**||0.000|
|Employment in hospitality offers job security on the long term||−0.088||0.321||0.043||0.664||−0.004||0.967||0.041||0.678||0.098||0.269||0.217*||0.027|
|Good social security and social advantages based on collective agreements||−0.204*||0.021||0.127||0.200||−0.105||0.240||0.144||0.144||0.091||0.308||0.236*||0.016|
Overview of empirical research-results for the Spearman-rho correlation analysis of symbolic attributes of the industry on the shortage of professional workers
|Pride in working in hospitality industry||−0.055||0.541||−0.125||0.205||0.031||0.725||0.174 +||0.078|
|Provision of good social involvement and relations with managers and team||−0.167 +||0.059||−0.039||0.698||0.162 +||0.067||0.229*||0.019|
|Provision of positive environment based on flexibility, mutual recognition, and feedback-culture||−0.105||0.239||0.078||0.434||0.123||0.168||0.187 +||0.057|
|Hospitality-establishments emphasis on acting socially, environmentally, and ethically responsible in the daily business||−0.159 +||0.074||0.051||0.604||0.002||0.979||0.267**||0.006|
|Enjoying the social aspect of direct customer interaction with guest||−0.131||0.142||−0.155||0.117||0.097||0.275||0.117||0.238|
|Higher attractiveness of hospitality-establishments that implement socially, environmentally, and ethically responsible measurements||−0.246**||0.005||−0.019||0.845||0.043||0.631||0.105||0.288|
Construct, questions, and items used
|Shortage of professional workers||How would you assess the following statements about the Hospitality Industry? (if you are an employee, please answer according to your perception)||Lack of professional workers on the regional labor market|
|Small number of applicants with the required skills|
|Deficits between current skill levels of existing workforce and the optimum level of skills required|
|Difficulty to find workers with the right skills and qualifications for some occupations, despite the provision of attractive wages and working conditions|
|Digital skills||How you would assess the quality of digital skills and abilities in your work environment? (if you are an employee, please answer according to your perception)||Using MS Office|
|Handling online booking and reservation systems|
|Using social media and review sites for business purposes|
|Using property management systems and electronic point of sales-systems|
|Handling basic digital security measures|
|Social skills||How you would assess the quality of social skills and abilities in your work environment? (if you are an employee, please answer according to your perception)||Communication skills|
|Foreign language skills|
|Green skills||How you would assess the quality of green skills and abilities in your work environment? (if you are an employee, please answer according to your perception)||Minimization environmental impact|
|Responsible daily behavior|
|Knowledge about digital technologies to improve the use of resources|
|Professional skills||How would you generally assess the level of skills in the hospitality industry? If you are an employee, please reflect on your skills-level in form of a self-assessment approach||On average, the general level skills in the hospitality industry are really high|
|Employees are able to cope with daily tasks of their job role by using their basic skills|
|Employees are able to cope with extraordinary tasks or situations of their job role|
|Instrumental attributes of employment||How would you assess the following statements about the Hospitality Industry? (if you are an employee, please answer according to your perception)||Adequate work-life balance with flexible and adequate working hours|
|The work intensity and workload are adequate|
|Employment in hospitality offers job security on the long term|
|Employment in hospitality provides good social security and social advantages, based on collective agreements|
|Offers generally good earning opportunities|
|Offers adequate and fair compensation according to individual experience, skills, and commitment|
|Symbolic Image attributes||How would you assess the following statements about the Hospitality Industry? (if you are an employee, please answer according to your perception)||Hospitality-establishments emphasis on acting socially, environmentally, and ethically responsible in the daily business|
|Hospitality-jobs encourage a positive environment based on flexibility, mutual recognition, and feedback-culture|
|Hospitality industry provides good social involvement and relations with the managers and the team|
|Taking pride in working in hospitality industry|
|Hospitality-establishments that implement socially, environmentally, and ethically responsible measurements are more attractive in terms of employment|
|Enjoying the social aspect of direct customer interaction with guest|
Note(s): Own representation
Aaker, J.L. (1997), “Dimensions of brand personality”, Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. 34 No. 3, p. 347.
Abou-Shouk, M., Megicks, P. and Lim, W.M. (2013), “Perceived benefits and e-commerce adoption by SME travel agents in developing countries: evidence from Egypt”, Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, Vol. 37 No. 4, pp. 490-515.
Adda, J., Paola Monti, I.-B., Rodolfo Debenedetti Michele Pellizzari, F., di Ginevra Fabiano Schivardi, U., Antonella Trigari, I.-B., Carrer, L., Cefalà, L., Facchetti, E. and Cattivelli, L. (2017), Unemployment and Skill Mismatch in the Italian Labor Market, University of Bocconi, Milano, Itlay, available at: https://www.unibocconi.eu/wps/wcm/connect/3e05b460-33aa-402a-b1ec-ccc795da190b/int_report_JPMorgan_MAIL+ percent281 percent29+ percent282 percent29.pdf?MOD=AJPERESandCVID=lRfKgSx.
Adeyinka-Ojo, S. (2018), “A strategic framework for analysing employability skills deficits in rural hospitality and tourism destinations”, Tourism Management Perspectives, Vol. 27, pp. 47-54.
Al Ababneh, M.M. (2017), “Service quality in the hospitality industry”, Journal of Tourism and Hospitality, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 1-2.
Alhelalat, J.A. (2015), “Hospitality and non-hospitality graduate skills between education and industry”, Journal of Business Studies Quarterly, Vol. 6 No. 4, p. 46.
Amaro, S. and Duarte, P. (2015), “An integrative model of consumers' intentions to purchase travel online”, Tourism Management, Vol. 46, pp. 64-79.
Anandhwanlert, T. and Wattanasan, C. (2017), “Career perception of undergraduate students on tourism and hospitality industry in Thailand”, Global Advanced Research Journal of Management and Business Studies, Vol. 5 No. 10, pp. 339-346.
Ashton, A.S. (2018), “How human resources management best practice influence employee satisfaction and job retention in the Thai hotel industry”, Journal of Human Resources in Hospitality and Tourism, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 175-199.
Baum, T. (2015), “Human resources in tourism: still waiting for change? - A 2015 reprise”, Tourism Management, Vol. 50 No. 2015, pp. 204-212.
Beach, L.R. (1992), “Image theory: decision making in personal and organizational contexts Lee Roy Beach, Wiley, 1990. No. of pages vi-xv +254”, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Vol. 13 No. 5, pp. 533-534.
Beach, L.R. and Mitchell, T.R. (1990), “Image theory: a behavioral theory of decision making in organizations”, in Staw, B.M. and Cumming, L.L. (Eds), Research in Organizational Behavior, JAI Press, Connecticut, pp.1-41.
Bennett, J. and McGuinness, S. (2009), “Assessing the impact of skill shortages on the productivity performance of high-tech firms in Northern Ireland”, Applied Economics, Vol. 41 No. 6, pp. 727-737.
Bernhard, R.H. (2000), Social Research Methods – Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches, Sage, Thousand Oaks, California.
Bertani, F., Raberto, M. and Teglio, A. (2020), “The productivity and unemployment effects of the digital transformation: an empirical and modelling assessment”, Review of Evolutionary Political Economy, Vol. 1 No. 3, pp. 329-355.
Brislin, R.W. (1970), “Back-translation for cross-cultural research”, Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, Vol. 1 No. 3, pp. 185-216.
Brotherton, B. and Wood, R.C. (2008), “Editorial introduction”, in Brotherton, B. and Wood, R.C. (Eds.), Hospitality Management. Sage Publications, New York, NY, pp. 1-34.
Brunello, G. and Wruuck, P. (2019), “Skill shortages and skill mismatch in Europe: a review of the literature”, No. 12346; IZA Discussion Papers.
Cappelli, P. (2015), “Skill gaps, skill shortages, and skill mismatches”, Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol. 68 No. 2, pp. 251-290.
Carlisle, S., Ivanov, S. and Dijkmans, C. (2021), “The digital skills divide: evidence from the European tourism industry”, Journal of Tourism Futures, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print, doi: 10.1108/JTF-07-2020-0114.
Cavazotte, F.de S.C.N., Lemos, A.H.da C. and Viana, M.D.de A. (2012), “New generations in the job market: renewed expectations or old ideals?”, Cadernos EBAPE.BR, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 162-180.
Cedefop (2015), “Skill shortages and gaps in European enterprises”, No. 102; Cedefop Reference Series.
Cedefop (2020), “Skills developments and trends in the tourism sector”, available at: https://skillspanorama.cedefop.europa.eu/en/analytical_highlights/skills-developments-and-trends-tourism-sector.
Chung, N. and Koo, C. (2015), “The use of social media in travel information search”, Telematics and Informatics, Vol. 32 No. 2, pp. 215-229.
Clarke, M. (2016), “Addressing the soft skills crisis”, Strategic HR Review, Vol. 15 No. 3, pp. 137-139.
Collins, C.J. and Stevens, C.K. (2002), “The relationship between early recruitment-related activities and the application decisions of new labour market entrants: a brand equity approach to recruitment”, Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 87 No. 6, pp. 1121-1133.
CSES (2016), Mapping and Performance Check of the Supply Side of Tourism Education and Training, Centre for Strategy and Evaluation Services, European Union, Brussels, available at: https://skillspanorama.cedefop.europa.eu/en/useful_resources/mapping-and-performance-check-supply-side-tourism-education-and-training.
Dalkrani, M. and Dimitriadis, E. (2018), “The effect of job satisfaction on employee commitment”, International Journal of Business and Economic Sciences Applied Research, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 16-23.
Davidson, C., Michael, C.G. and Wang, Y. (2011), “Sustainable labor practices? Hotel human resource managers views on turnover and skill shortages”, Journal of Human Resources in Hospitality and Tourism, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 235-253.
Deming, D. (2017), “The growing importance of social skills in the labor market”, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 132 No. 4, pp. 1593-1640.
Dharmesti, M., Merrilees, B. and Winata, L. (2020), “I'm mindfully green: examining the determinants of guest pro-environmental behaviors (PEB) in hotels”, Journal of Hospitality Marketing & Management, Vol. 29 No. 7, pp. 830-847.
Dimitrovski, D.D., Todorović, A.T. and Valjarević, A.D. (2012), “Rural tourism and regional development: case study of development of rural tourism in the region of Gruţa, Serbia”, Procedia Environmental Sciences, Vol. 14, pp. 288-297.
Dogru, T., McGinley, S., Line, N. and Szende, P. (2019), “Employee earnings growth in the leisure and hospitality industry”, Tourism Management, Vol. 74, pp. 1-11.
Edwards, M.R. (2009), “An integrative review of employer branding and OB theory”, Personnel Review, Vol. 39 No. 1, pp. 5-23.
Ehrhart, K.H. and Ziegert, J.C. (2005), “Why are individuals attracted to organizations?”, Journal of Management, Vol. 31 No. 6, pp. 901-919.
Ek Styvén, M., Näppä, A., Mariani, M. and Nataraajan, R. (2022), “Employee perceptions of employers' creativity and innovation: implications for employer attractiveness and branding in tourism and hospitality”, Journal of Business Research, Vol. 141, pp. 290-298.
Elshaer, A.M. and Marzouk, A.M. (2019), “Vocational skills and training in higher tourism and hospitality education in Egypt: an analytical framework”, International Journal on Recent Trends in Business and Tourism, Vol. 3 No. 3, pp. 12-26.
Erer, B. (2020), “The importance of human resoirces management in tourism enterprises”, in Ates, A. and Akmese, K.A. (Eds), The Current Approaches in Tourism, Iksad Publishing House, Tremblay-en-France, France, pp. 167-194.
Eurac (2020), “The sustainable tourism observatory of South Tyrol (STOST) - annual progress report 2020”, available at: https://sustainabletourism.eurac.edu/.
European Commission (2017), “Blueprint for sectoral cooperation on skills -tourism: responding to skills mismatches at a sectoral level”, doi: 10.2767/201592.
European Commission (2020), “European economic forecast - Spring 2020”, No. 125; INSTITUTIONAL PAPER, doi: 10.2765/788367.
Ferreira, A.I., Martinez, L.F., Lamelas, J.P. and Rodrigues, R.I. (2017), “Mediation of job embeddedness and satisfaction in the relationship between task characteristics and turnover”, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 248-267.
Ferris, G.R., Witt, L.A. and Hochwarter, W.A. (2001), “Interaction of social skill and general mental ability on job performance and salary”, Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 86 No. 6, p. 1075.
Filieri, R. and McLeay, F. (2014), “E-WOM and accommodation: an analysis of the factors that influence travelers' adoption of information from online reviews”, Journal of Travel Research, Vol. 53 No. 1, pp. 44-57.
Fligstein, N. (2001), “Social skill and the theory of fields”, Sociological Theory, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 105-125.
Gambin, L., Hogarth, T., Murphy, L., Spreadbury, K., Warhurst, C. and Winterbotham, M. (2016), “Research to understand the extent, nature and impact of skills mismatches in the economy”, (No. 265), available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/522980/BIS-16-260-research-skills-mismatches-in-the-economy-May-2016.pdf.
Gehrels, S., Wienen, N. and Mendes, J. (2016), “Comparing hotels' employer brand effectiveness through social media and websites”, Research in Hospitality Management, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 163-170, doi: 10.1080/22243534.2016.125328.
Ghielen, S.T.S., de Cooman, R. and Sels, L. (2021), “The interacting content and process of the employer brand: person-organization fit and employer brand clarity”, European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, Vol. 30 No. 2, pp. 292-304.
Goh, E. and Okumus, F. (2020), “Avoiding the hospitality workforce bubble: strategies to attract and retain generation Z talent in the hospitality workforce”, Tourism Management Perspectives, Vol. 33, 100603, doi: 10.1016/j.tmp.2019.100603.
Green, F. (2016), “Skills demand, training and skills mismatch: a review of key concepts, theory and evidence (future of skills and lifelong learning evidence review)”, available at: http://hdl.voced.edu.au/10707/422302.
Green, F. and Owen, D. (2003), “Skills shortages: local perspectives from England”, Regional Studies, Vol. 37 No. 2, pp. 123-134.
Highhouse, S., Lievens, F. and Sinar, E.F. (2003), “Measuring attraction to organizations”, Educational and Psychological Measurement, Vol. 63 No. 6, pp. 986-1001.
Hoppe, D., Keller, H. and Horstmann, F. (2021), “Got employer image? How applicants choose their employer”, Corporate Reputation Review, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 139-159.
IDM (2020), “Touristische Zahlen und Fakten - Die Destination Südtirol im Jahr 2019”, available at: https://www.idm-suedtirol.com/de/news/484-news.html.
Ioannides, D. and Gyimóthy, S. (2020), “The COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity for escaping the unsustainable global tourism path”, Tourism Geographies, Vol. 22 No. 3, pp. 624-632.
Iorgulescu, M.-C., State, O. and Tănse, M.O. (2020), “Perception on a career in tourism: the case of business and tourism students”, in Pamfilie, R., Dinu, V., Tăchiciu, L., Pleșea, D. and Vasiliu, C. (Eds), BASIQ International Conference on New Trends in Sustainable Business and Consumption, Editura ASE, Bukarest, pp. 1172-1179.
Ivanov, S., Ivanova, M.G. and Iankova, K. (2014), “Sustainable tourism practices of accommodation establishments in Bulgaria”, Tourismos: An International Multidisciplinary Journal of Tourism, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 175-205.
Jaschik, S. (2016), “Survey finds that college students think they are being well-prepared with the skills and qualities needed for careers”, available at: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/01/20/study-finds-big-gaps-between-student-and-employer-perceptions.
Jiang, Z. and Tu, H. (2022), “Does sincere social interaction stimulate tourist immersion? A conservation of resources perspective”, Journal of Travel Research, 00472875211067549.
Jonckers, P. (2005), “General trends and skill needs in the tourism sector in Europe”, in Strietska-Ilia, O. and Tessaring, M. (Eds), Trends and Skill Needs in Tourism, Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Brussels, pp. 7-11.
Kalyar, M.N., Ali, F. and Shafique, I. (2021), “Green mindfulness and green creativity nexus in hospitality industry: examining the effects of green process engagement and CSR”, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 33 No. 8, pp. 2653-2675, doi: 10.1108/IJCHM-09-2020-1079.
Keller, K.L. (1993), “Conceptualizing, measuring, and managing customer-based brand equity”, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 57 No. 1, pp. 1-22.
Khan, A.N., Khan, N.A. and Bodla, A.A. (2021), “The after-shock effects of high-performers turnover in hotel industry: a multi-level study”, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 33 No. 10, pp. 3277-3295, doi: 10.1108/IJCHM-12-2020-1439.
King, C., Madera, J.M., Lee, L., Murillo, E., Baum, T. and Solnet, D. (2021), “Reimagining attraction and retention of hospitality management talent– A multilevel identity perspective”, Journal of Business Research, Vol. 136, pp. 251-262.
Knox, S. and Freeman, C. (2006), “Measuring and managing employer brand image in the service industry”, Journal of Marketing Management, Vol. 22 Nos 7-8, pp. 695-716.
Koc, E. (2021), “Intercultural competence in tourism and hospitality: self-efficacy beliefs and the dunning Kruger effect”, International Journal of Intercultural Relations, Vol. 82, pp. 175-184.
Köşker, H., Unur and, K. and Gursoy, D. (2019), “The effect of basic personality traits on service orientation and tendency to work in the hospitality and tourism industry”, Journal of Teaching in Travel and Tourism, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 140-162.
Kumari, S. and Saini, G.K. (2018), “Do instrumental and symbolic factors interact in influencing employer attractiveness and job pursuit intention?”, Career Development International, Vol. 23 No. 4, pp. 444-462.
Kusluvan, S. and Kusluvan, Z. (2000), “Perceptions and attitudes of undergraduate tourism students towards working in the tourism industry in Turkey”, Tourism Management, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 251-269.
Lacher, R.G. and Oh, C.-O. (2012), “Is tourism a low-income industry? Evidence from three coastal regions”, Journal of Travel Research, Vol. 51 No. 4, pp. 464-472.
Leekha, A., Chhabra, N. and Sharma, S. (2014), “Employer branding: strategy for improving employer attractiveness”, International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 48-60.
Lievens, F. and Highhouse, S. (2003), “The relation of instrumental and symbolic attributes to a company's attractiveness as an employer”, Personnel Psychology, Vol. 56 No. 1, pp. 75-102.
Lievens, F. and Slaughter, J. (2016), “Employer image and employer branding: what we know and what we need to know”, Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 1-34.
Lievens, F., Hoye, G. and Schreurs, B. (2005), “Examining the relationship between employer knowledge dimensions and organizational attractiveness: an application in a military context”, Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, Vol. 78 No. 4, pp. 553-572.
Liu-Lastres, B., Wen, H. and Huang, W.-J. (2022), “A reflection on the Great Resignation in the hospitality and tourism industry”, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print DOI: 10.1108/IJCHM-05-2022-0551.
Majhosev, D. and Koteski, C. (2020), “Human resources as an important factor for development of tourism in the Republic of N. Macedonia”, SocioBrains - International Scientific Referred Online Journal with Impact Factor, Vol. 1 No. 66, pp. 236-244.
Marin-Zapata, S.I., Román-Calderón, J.P., Robledo-Ardila, C. and Jaramillo-Serna, M.A. (2021), “Soft skills, do we know what we are talking about?”, Review of Managerial Science, Vol. 16 No. 4, pp. 969-1000.
McGuinness, S., Pouliakas, K. and Redmond, P. (2018), “Skills mismatch: concepts, measurement and policy approaches”, Journal of Economic Surveys, Vol. 32 No. 4, pp. 985-1015.
Morosan, C. and Bowen, J.T. (2022), “Labor shortage solution: redefining hospitality through digitization”, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print, doi: 10.1108/IJCHM-03-2022-0304.
NTG Alliance (2019), “Desk research summary on the future of digital, green and social skills in tourism”, available at: https://nexttourismgeneration.eu/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/NTG_Desk_Research_Summary_January_2019.pdf.
Omondi-Ochieng, P. (2018), “Gold Cup: human resources as sources of competitive advantage and superior performance”, Evidence-Based HRM: A Global Forum for Empirical Scholarship, Vol. 6 No. 3, pp. 242-254.
Papathanassis, A. (2020), “Cruise tourism ‘brain drain’: exploring the role of personality traits, educational experience and career choice attributes”, Current Issues in Tourism, Vol. 24 No. 14, pp. 2028-2043.
Paraskevas, A. (2002), “Outsourcing IT for small hotels: the opportunities and challenges of using application service providers”, The Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, Vol. 43 No. 2, pp. 27-39.
Podsakoff, P.M., MacKenzie, S.B., Lee, J.Y. and Podsakoff, N.P. (2003), “Common method biases in behavioral research: a critical review of the literature and recommended remedies”, Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 88 No. 5, p. 879.
Priyadarshi, P. (2011), “Employer brand image as predictor of employee satisfaction, affective commitment and turnover”, Indian Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 46 No. 3, pp. 510-522.
Quintini, G. (2011), “Over-qualified or under- skilled: a review of existing literature”, No. 121; Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, doi: 10.1787/5kg58j9d7b6d-en.
Renaud, S., Morin, L. and Fray, A.M. (2016), “What most attracts potential candidates? Innovative perks, training, or ethics?”, Career Development International, Vol. 21 No. 6, pp. 634-655.
Robinson, R.N., Baum, T., Golubovskaya, M., Solnet, D.J. and Callan, V. (2019), “Applying endosymbiosis theory: tourism and its young workers”, Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 78, 102751.
Saseanu, A.S., Ghita, S.I., Albastroiu, I. and Stoian, C.A. (2020), “Aspects of digitalization and related impact on green tourism in european countries”, Information, Vol. 11 No. 11, p. 507.
Schooley, R. (2017), “Why are soft skills missing in today's applicants”, Murray State Theses and Dissertations, Vol. 42, available at: https://digitalcommons.murraystate.edu/etd/42/.
Schwaiger, K., Zehrer, A. and Spiess, T. (2021), “The influence of symbolic and instrumental attributes of employer image on perceived industry attractiveness: differences between business owners and employees”, Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Insights, Vol. 5 No. 3, pp. 567-587, doi: 10.1108/JHTI-12-2020-0234.
Sivertzen, A.M., Etty, N.R. and Olafsen, A.H. (2013), “Employer branding: employer attractiveness and the use of social media”, Journal of Product and Brand Management, Vol. 22 No. 7, pp. 473-483.
Sondermann, D., Consolo, A., Gunnella, V., Koester, G., Lambrias, K., López-Garcia, P., Nerlich, C., Petroulakis, F., Saiz, L. and Serafini, R. (2019), “Economic structures 20 years into the euro”, No. 224; Occasional Paper Series, available at: https://www.ecb.europa.eu/pub/pdf/scpops/ecb.op224∼2349417aaa.en.pdf.
Sorin, F. and Sivarajah, U. (2021), “Exploring Circular economy in the hospitality industry: empirical evidence from Scandinavian hotel operators”, Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 265-285.
Sousa, M.J. and Wilks, D. (2018), “Sustainable skills for the world of work in the digital age”, Systems Research and Behavioral Science, Vol. 35 No. 4, pp. 399-405.
Spiess, T. and Zehrer, A. (2020), “Employees' change-oriented and proactive behaviors in small and medium-sized family businesses”, in Saiz-Àlvarez, J.M., Leitao, J. and Palma-Ruiz, J.M. (Eds), Entrepreneurship and Family Business Vitality - Surviving and Flourishing in the Long Term, Springer, Wiesbaden, pp. 49-64.
Spiess, T., Nickel, V. and Zehrer, A. (2022), “Employer attractiveness of family businesses in the IT industry: the effect of personality traits and the moderating role of ownership communication”, Journal of Human Resource Management, in print.
Strietska-Ilia, O. and Tessaring, M. (2005), “Trends and skill needs in Tourism”, No. 115; Cedefop Panorama Series, available at: https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/5161_en.pdf.
Succi, C. and Canovi, M. (2020), “Soft skills to enhance graduate employability: comparing students and employers' perceptions”, Studies in Higher Education, Vol. 45 No. 9, pp. 1834-1847.
Suki, N.M. and Suki, N.M. (2017), “Flight ticket booking app on mobile devices: examining the determinants of individual intention to use”, Journal of Air Transport Management, Vol. 62, pp. 146-154.
Tanwar, K. and Prasad, A. (2016), “Exploring the relationship between employer branding and employee retention”, Global Business Review, Vol. 17 No. 3, pp. 186-206.
Tfaily, R.A. (2018), “The pecularities of human resources in the tourism industry”, Business Excellence and Management, Vol. 8 No. 2, pp. 31-41.
Unioncamere (2020), “Green e digitale trainano la domanda di lavoro: 1,6 milioni gli esperti in ambiente ricercati entro il 2024, digital skill indispensabili per 1,5 milioni di lavoratori”, available at: https://www.unioncamere.gov.it/P42A4625C160S123/green-e-digitale-trainano-la-domanda-di-lavoro--1-6-milioni-gli-esperti-in-ambiente-ricercati-entro-il-2024--digital-skill-indispensabili-per-1-5-milioni-di-lavoratori.htm.
UNWTO (2019), “The future of work and skills development in tourism – policy paper”, doi: 10.18111/9789284421213.
Van Asperen, M., de Rooij, P. and Dijkmans, C. (2018), “Engagement-based loyalty: the effects of social media engagement on customer loyalty in the travel industry”, International Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Administration, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 78-94.
Van Hoye, G. and Saks, A.M. (2011), “The instrumental-symbolic framework: organisational image and attractiveness of potential applicants and their companions at a job fair”, Applied Psychology, Vol. 60 No. 2, pp. 311-335.
Vandeplas, A. and Thum-Thysen, A. (2019), “Skills mismatch and productivity in the EU”, doi: 10.2765/954687.
Wallace, M., Lings, I., Cameron, R.A.R. and Sheldon, N. (2014), “Attracting and retaining staff: the role of branding and industry image”, in Harris, R. and Short, T. (Eds), Workforce Development, Springer, Singapore, pp. 19-36.
Waqanimaravu, M. and Arasanmi, C.N. (2020), “Employee training and service quality in the hospitality industry”, Journal of Foodservice Business Research, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 216-227.
WIFO (2019), “Economy in Figures: Die Südtiroler Wirtschaft - Aktuelle Daten, Indikatoren und Entwicklungen”, available at: https://www.wifo.bz.it/media/756a400f-f969-42e5-abea-dcef945af977/2019-web-economyinfigures-de.pdf.
Wilden, R., Gudergan, S. and Lings, I. (2010), “Employer branding: strategic implications for staff recruitment”, Journal of Marketing Management, Vol. 26 Nos 1-2, pp. 56-73.
Willie, P.A., Connor, D., Sole, J., Forgacs, G., Grieve, R. and Mueller, J. (2017), “Human capital challenges in the hotel industry of Canada: finding innovative solutions”, Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes, Vol. 9 No. 4, pp. 401-410.
Yang, H., Cheung, C. and Li, W. (2022), “Intercultural communication competency practices in the hotel industry”, Journal of China Tourism Research, Vol. 18 No. 1, pp. 162-184.
Zhang, Y., Sotiriadis, M. and Shen, S. (2022), “Investigating the impact of smart tourism technologies on tourists' experiences”, Sustainability, Vol. 14 No. 5, p. 3048.
Zopiatis, A., Constanti, P. and Theocharous, A.L. (2014), “Job involvement, commitment, satisfaction and turnover: evidence from hotel employees in Cyprus”, Tourism Management, Vol. 41, pp. 129-140.
Dall'Oglio, A.M., Rossiello, B., Coletti, M.F., Caselli, M.C., Rava, L., Di Ciommo, V., Orzalesi, M., Giannantoni, P. and Pasqualetti, P. (2010), “Developmental evaluation at age 4: validity of an Italian parental questionnaire”, Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, Vol. 46 Nos 7-8, pp. 419-426.
Fornell, C. and Larcker, D.F. (1981), “Structural equation models with unobservable variables and measurement error: algebra and statistics”, Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. 18 No. 3, pp. 382-288.
Hair, J.F., Ringle, C.M. and Sarstedt, M. (2013), “Partial least squares structural equation modeling: rigorous applications, better results and higher acceptance”, Long Range Planning, Vol. 46 Nos 1-2, pp. 1-12.