Tourism Seminar: Professor Tom Baum

24 August, 2017 - 11:00 to 12:00
Chamberlain Building (35), Room 214

Paper Abstract:
Developing policy at a national and regional/ city level to address the skills and wider workforce needs of the tourism industry has been a substantially stalled conversation for the past 25+ years. The questions asked, the research methodologies adopted and the answers/ recommendations proposed have not shifted significantly over time. The focus has been substantially inward looking to the industry and to the potential workforce recruits. As a consequence, both academic and applied public policy research have made but a marginal contribution to our understanding, inter alia, issues such as low remuneration, high labour turnover, skills shortages, poor levels of skills development and poor workplace conditions. As a consequence, there is a need to adopt a radically different approach and mind set in understanding/ explaining the workforce issues faced by tourism and seeking strategies to respond to them.

This seminar will report the process that we have adopted in an ongoing study in Glasgow using a big data approach to associate tourism workforce/ employment challenges with a range of social, economic as well as industry related indicators. The purpose of the study is to develop a broad methodology that will assist cities, regions and countries to better understand the underlying reasons for the workforce challenges they face and to recognise that effective policy responses may be required that are located far from where they have traditionally been sought.

Presenter Bio:
My research interests address the socio-cultural and economic contexts of low skills employment, with particular focus on the hospitality and tourism industry and what change within these contexts means for policy, planning and operations within the sector. This interest stems from over 30 years of experience in the strategic planning and development of vocational and professional education and training, as a research director within the public sector, as an educator in universities and as consultant to the private sector and to public sector, internationally funded projects across five continents. A key focus of my work addresses the role of public and private stakeholders in planning and HRD for the diverse employment environment of hospitality and tourism. Much of my work in this area has been located in developing country contexts in Asia and Africa. I also collaborate in research which addresses related areas of employment including migrant work and episodic, events volunteering.

I am currently the Head of Department in the Department of HRM in the University of Strathclyde, having previously spent 7 years heading up the former Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management and The Scottish Hotel School.  I have published extensively on themes relating to people and work within hospitality and tourism. I has also supervised over 35 successful PhD students working in this and related areas of HRD in tourism and hospitality and have been an examiner for over 50 doctoral candidates.

I am seemingly addicted to the acquisition of academic qualifications. I have a BA (Hons) and MA in education by research from the University of Wales, an MPhil in educational development from Nottingham Trent University and a PhD with a focus on tourism labour markets from the University of Strathclyde. I have recently been examined for my DLitt from the University of Strathclyde, representing my research of over 30 years into the tourism and hospitality workforce. I will graduate in November and will start looking around for my next project!

My current funded and collaborative research projects (beyond my on-going work with WORTS colleagues here in UQ and Griffiths) are in the following areas:

  • Low skills work in a smart city: Developing an analytical framework for policy-informing research into tourism employment in Glasgow and Manila
  • Sustainable HRM and the development of tourism in Africa
  • The changing role of HRM in the hotel sector – a case study of the Crieff Hydro Hotel Group (building on earlier conceptual work with Solnet and Kralj)
  • The changing hospitality workforce in Cyprus
  • Tourism employment and human rights in Vietnam
Professor Tom Baum, University of Strathclyde