IACs are crucial in making sure the province’s educational institutions stay connected with current industry issues and trends and receive both direction and input about program content and delivery strategies. Even though many of BC’s hospitality training programs say it can be tough to keep them active and focused, their advice and input provides them fundamentally important guidance.
Recently, the BC Human Resources Task Force recognized the untapped potential of IACs and asked go2 to conduct the survey as a first step in looking for ways to strengthen linkages between the industry and educational institutions and how best both groups can work cooperatively to tap that potential. The survey had three objectives:
- Seek input from tourism/hospitality program coordinators on what works, what doesn’t, their successes and their challenges;
- Find out the views of industry leaders serving on IACs on their successes, challenges and effectiveness;
- Identify what makes an effective IAC and suggest ways to strengthen industry-educator linkages.
Some 34 post-secondary institutions in the province have tourism/hospitality programs. Of these, 24 have active, formal IACs (that meet regularly to advise the institutions’ program and course planners), while eight have informal IACs (a network of business leaders the institutions consult on an as-needed basis). Thirty program coordinators agreed to participate, 20 responded directly to the survey while 23 individual IAC members provided their thoughts.
Though the anonymous online surveys (one for coordinators and one for committee members) identified a range of roles IACs play, it found both coordinators and committee members agree their most valuable function is to provide input on curriculum design and program content. Almost as important is the information they supply institutions on industry trends and current and future human resource needs.
In recommending a one-day forum, the survey report suggests a number of possible discussion topics. Among them:
- What issues/ideas the survey raises would it be useful for go2 and the tourism education community to discuss further?
- “Best ideas” that could be used elsewhere?
- Should there be provincial IACs to provide input into individual program areas and their core curricula?
- Would it be useful to produce a handbook or other resource on running strong IACs?
- How can different IACs share successful ideas and activities?
- What are the pros and cons of the informal approach to gathering industry input?
The complete report of the Survey of BC Tourism/Hospitality Programs Industry Advisory Committees is available in the Research and Reports section.