Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

ATLAS Conference Destination Dynamics Sep 2019, Copenhagen


Soft skills are skills such as interpersonal and social skills, communication skills, teamwork and the ability to self motivate. Numerous studies have shown that employers in the tourism, hospitality and events sectors place high value on soft skills when recruiting new employees, yet these skills can often be underdeveloped in graduates of tourism and hospitality programmes (Stietska-Ilina et al. 2005, Nyanjom and Wilkins 2016). This in part because unlike hard skills, which are more technical in nature and as a result, measurable, soft skills can be difficult to measure, document and assess in third level education programmes.

This paper reports on an ongoing Organizational Development initiative to embed soft skills development in tourism, hospitality and events management degree programmes in a school in a third level institution in Ireland. We present data gathered from students, lecturers and employers in the sector who were asked what skills they believed were required by graduates. The results indicate that although there is general agreement that soft skills are key, there is some disparity between which skills are most valued by the three cohorts. The challenges of this finding are explored. Utilizing this data and related European initiatives the paper also presents a framework for measuring and documenting soft skills development with the aim of encouraging the legitimization and institutionalization of soft skills development in tourism, hospitality and events. This research will be of use to educators interested in embedding soft skills within education and training programmes.


Nyanjom J. & Wilkins H. (2016) The Development of Emotional Labor Skill in Food and Beverage Practical Training, Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Education, 28:4,178-188.

Strietska-Ilina O., Tessaring H., Dworschak B., Schmidt S.L., Freikamp H. & Mytek K. (2005) Trends and Skills Needs in Tourism. Office for the Official Puyblication of the European Comission: Luxembourg.