Challenges facing hospitality industrial attachmnent as a learning experiences in selected institutions in Nairobi-Kenya
Kamunzyu, Elizabeth Ndunge Luu
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It is a well known fact that practice clarifies theory and any learning activity, especially technical oriented must be backed by both theory and practice. It is therefore important for students in various technical disciplines to undergo industrial attachment for a better understanding of the tasks and practices performed by industry professionals, improve self-confidence and have the opportunity to apply classroom theories to practical issues in the actual business setting. However, the provision of experiential learning activity such as hospitality industrial attachment does not necessarily provide a meaningful learning experience (Zopiatis, 2007a).The main objective of this research was to investigate the challenges facing hospitality industrial attachment as a learning experience. The study aimed at determining whether theory and practice in the hospitality curriculum relate. It also sought to establish the role of the immediate on-the-job supervisors in the hospitality industrial attachment. This study was a descriptive research with the target population being all students pursuing an accredited degree or diploma in hospitality in selected institutions in Nairobi-Kenya, their educators as well as their immediate on-the-job supervisors in 3, 4 and 5-star hotels in Nairobi where the students usually undertake their attachment. A sample of 194 respondents comprising of 122 students, 32 hospitality educators and 40 immediate on-the-job supervisors was drawn from the target population. Purposive sampling was used in selecting the sample for students and their educators while cluster sampling was used in selecting the immediate on-the-job supervisors. Data for this research was collected using semi-structured questionnaires and an interview schedule. The validity and reliability of the instruments were enhanced by pre-testing the instruments before using. Data collected was analysed using both qualitative and quantitative techniques. Chi square tests were used to establish the significance of relationships between variables. The findings of the study were that the main challenges that were facing hospitality industrial attachment included lack of adequate guidance and support to students during the industrial attachment, lack of adequate funds and time allocated for industrial attachment visits and reversed priority of the roles played by the immediate-on-the job supervisors of the students on attachment. There was no significant statistical relationship between gender of the students, the star rating of the hotels in which they were attached and the challenges they faced during the attachment. The study concluded that hospitality industrial attachment was facing challenges that compromised its quality as a meaningful learning experience. In this connection the researcher recommends that industrial attachment should be planned and implemented as a genuine learning experience right from the start. This could be done by allocating adequate funds to support the student interns and to enable the educational institution to maintain the vital link with the student interns and the industry. The immediate on-the-job supervisors should also be trained on what is expected of them during the industrial attachment. This calls for a closer working relationship between the educational institutions and the industry to ensure hospitality industrial attachment is a meaningful learning experience for the benefit of all those involved.