Graduate attributes for contemporary business event tourism management qualifications: Employee and graduate reflections at a South African University of Technology (UoT)

18 Oct 2017

The purpose of this article was to determine the graduate attributes and personal skills that are fundamental to the South African business event tourism management sector in order to develop responsive higher education qualifications. The article seeks to understand employers? expectations in terms of workplace skills and to explore how graduates perceive their own personal competency levels related to the industry-specific graduate attributes. This qualitative study considered two data sets at a South African University of Technology (UoT). It was firstly informed by a panel of seven expert practitioners utilising the Developing a Curriculum Method (DACUM). Complimenting this perspective, the second set of stakeholder insights was gained from semi-structured personal interviews with 20 National Diploma graduates enrolled for further education in the degree Bachelor of Technology: Event Management in Tourism Management, indicative of business event tourism career specialisation. Data was analysed systematically by means of manual qualitative data analysis steps and ATLAS.ti qualitative data analysis (QDA). General areas of competence (GACs) related to graduate attributes and personal skills were categorised into several critical workplace competencies. Communication, conflict and stress management were highlighted as critical workplace competencies. Insights further indicated significant limitations in the conflict and stress management competencies of graduates. Focusing on the broader needs of the different stakeholders involved, this article provides new insights into how employers and graduates perceive the workplace competencies significant to the South African business event tourism management sector and suggests the deeper engenderment of graduate attributes in higher education syllabi for business event tourism qualifications.