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Quandaries of the labour market in tourism as exemplified by the case of Austria

Egon Smeral (Österreichisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung Arsenal, Objekt 20 Postfach 91 A‐1103, Wien (Austria))

Tourism Review

ISSN: 1660-5373

Article publication date: 1 April 2004



The availability of an adequate pool of suitable labour is a key location factor for the labour‐intensive hotel and restaurant business. Yet, in spite of high unemployment (unemployment rate: 17,3%) and schemes to import foreign seasonal workers, the sector still encounters considerable difficulties in filling job vacancies. Of the many approaches towards elucidating the mystery of high levels of unemployment concurrent with a perceived scarcity of workers, key contributions are the high seasonal fluctuations in demand and the mismatch theory. The phenomenon of seasonal unemployment may be understood as a special aspect of demand scarcity. The seasonal dependence of tourism demand generates variations which in turn cause personnel to be fired at a grand scale at the end of a season. The mismatch theory goes a long way towards explaining a large part of the problems encountered in filling job openings while sectoral unemployment remains high. Key elements of the structural imbalance are qualifications and age, availability in terms of geography and time, and earnings expectations (including working conditions and career options). Further facts are also that the inflow of foreign workers keeps wages and working conditions down and drives austrian workers into unemployment or in other sectors. Overall, it appears that the future supply of an adequate number of qualified labour is a growing problem, because the need for operations to position themselves in the quality segment will raise the labour and qualification threshold.



Smeral, E. (2004), "Quandaries of the labour market in tourism as exemplified by the case of Austria", Tourism Review, Vol. 59 No. 4, pp. 14-20.



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Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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