The hospitality industry in Kenya is expansive with five-star hotels being some of the best ranked in the world when it comes to tourism, conference and event hosting safari expeditions for local and international tourists. These developments have ensured that the hospitality sector has engaged with various stakeholders either in public and the private sector in continuing the upward trend of ensuring that the tourism and the hotel industry continues to grow. In this context of growth, the other important factor that has emerged is the need of the hospitality industry to have professional and skilled employees (Ng’ang’a Anne, 2013). These employees have been in high demand to ensure that they are able to be accorded the same status as the hospitality industry which they serve. The quest of having professional employees who have the skills and the competencies that are required in the hospitality industries is based on the way that the country education system is set. The requirements to join the hospitality industry as a professional is based on college, technical and university educational backgrounds. These conditions are met and fulfilled by most of the graduates who are set to join the hospitality industry either as long term or short term employees. However, there are employees who also work in the hospitality sector as unskilled or semi-skilled laborers who undertake various duties and responsibilities to ensure that the operations of the hotels are running.
Intercontinental hotel Nairobi is amongst the best establishments which have a 5-star rating due to the services and the experiences they offer to their guests and the way under which they have been able to integrate operational and administration roles. These achievements are enhanced by having a robust and an extensive human resource department which incorporates local and foreign employees. The recruitment process that is involved to ensure that InterContinental hotel is able to acquire the right employees has been credited for its success in the hospitality sector and it continues to be a dominant entity internationally. Local employees have a different recruitment process than the professionals who are sent by the main company headquarters to serve in the country. The demand for professional and skilled personnel is rampant in Nairobi because there are various educational institutions that are offering courses related to the hospitality sector (Iravo, et al, 2013). Under these circumstances, the country is able to produce a vast number of graduates and there are also a good number of semi-skilled laborers that they can be able to employ. Therefore, the Intercontinental hotel uses its insight and expertise to ensure that it is able to balance its operational and administrative duties by getting the right employees to fill in any vacant positions. However, the availability of professionals who have undergone through formal education is not enough to assure them employment, they should be able to fit the expectations and requirements that are set for the jobs which are available.
In determining how the demand for professional and skilled personnel will be essential throughout this research project, there are few hypothetical theories that are supposed to be included to determine how the overall process can be successful. Efficient-Structure-Hypothesis (ESH) is used as a contrast to the other theories which define the market structures in any setting (Nzioka & Njuguna, 2017). The ESH theory will be essential in explaining the way that the hospitality industry is able to maintain and maximize profits and continue to operate even when the sector is experiencing the low season. It is during the off-peak seasons that the hospitality industry in Kenya is able to operate according to the brand name that it has established over the years and how the employees are either retained or laid off. The stakeholder theory in this research will also be vital in ensuring that managers in the hospitality industries have a network of relationships to serve this include the suppliers, employees and business partners. These stakeholders ensure that the hotels like InterContinental can be able to maintain themselves irrespective of the challenges which they may be facing. As seen, the hotel industry in Kenya has been able to oversee new entrants, substitute services, the power of buyouts, power of supplier and rivalry amongst the hospitality sector. These are some of the issues that have impacted the recruitment and employment factors as per the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) where hotels, lodges, restaurants, membership clubs and camps are registered (Nzioka & Njuguna, 2017).
The Kenyan tourism sector has been in existence since the colonial days, but there were no infrastructures that were laid out to ensure that the country would be able to benefit from the income that was being generated (Wadawi, et al, 2009). Most of the Europeans who visited the country even after independence had done it on cordial means with their friends who owned property in the country. However, the post-colonial structures that were made ensured that the tourists who visited the country would be booked and reserved to the first major international hotels like the Fairmont, Intercontinental, Serena and later the Hilton. The emergence of these hotels assured the international tourists that the country was ready to embrace change and evolution into the tourism sector which had been ignored for a long time. However, the lack of human resource meant that the country was not in the clear on how it would be able to integrate the tourism sector as part of a new source of foreign exchange. Therefore, the first batch of professional employees who operated in the hotels were outsiders while the unskilled personnel who were Kenyans were tasked to handle the other poor roles. Since that time, the government set the first institution, Kenya Utalii College so that it could ensure that there were people who could be able to perform the skills that were needed to streamline the hospitality and tourism sector.
The college which was strictly tasked with the enrollment and training of skilled professionals in the hospitality sector was able to ensure that the upcoming hospitality industry had the right employees for the job. Due to the high demand for the new employees, the college ensured that the learners would be inducted and taken through on the job training in the various hotels that had developed. This ensured that they were able to acquire the skills and competencies that were required for their induction in the hospitality sector. However, the continuous growth and development of the country has ensured that the hospitality training and learning has evolved to involve more institutions of higher learning that are able to provide the employees in the sector (Mutua, et al, 2012). Currently, the hospitality industry gets its employees from local and international universities based in Kenya through joint collaboration and partnerships with the colleges and universities on how they will train and absorb the graduates to the respective hotels. Advertisements, job posting on institutions websites, professional networking groups and employment agents also assist in ensuring that the hospitality sector is able to get the employees that they require.
The concept of understanding the reason for partnerships in the hospitality learning and teaching institutions is based on the relationships and experiences some of the hotels have with those institutions. The hospitality sector is considered as one of the best and money making employers in Kenya and due to that reason, both the institutions and the management of the hotels like to continue that tradition by getting the best graduates who are on course of becoming professionals. The on job training experience that the various graduates had gained when they were on internship programs at various hotels help them to be graded and absorbed according to the skills and competencies which they had shown. Therefore, the competence and abilities of the graduates when they are on job training and internship programs determine whether they will be able to get employment on the hotels that they were attached or they will have to try their chances somewhere else (King & Grace, 2006). In understanding how this process goes, most international and local companies have been using this standard to ensure that they are able to get the best graduates in various fields. The moment the organizations are able to get the best graduates, they are able to have an upper hand on their competitors because they know that they will be able to achieve the strategies and the goals that they have set. The same criteria is the one that the hospitality industry has adapted to ensure that they are able to have a competitive edge over their rivals.
The hospitality industry is very competitive of where it is based, and that is the reason why the best hotels are able to maintain and attract customers due to the services and the rates which they offer. Through the government and other stakeholder’s involvement, the hospitality industry has been able to create a platform where the hotels have got their own association so that they can be able to benchmark and create an avenue for evaluation. These evaluation platforms ensure that the hotels can be graded and awarded according to their services and the way in which their employees have been able to perform (Nzioka ; Njuguna, 2017). The Intercontinental hotel in Nairobi has been exceptional in maintaining its reputation and status as a hotel that is able to apply its international rating to the local community. These issues are supposed to be in accordance to its global rating where it has been involved in the division of its brand name to different regions across the world. Therefore, the employment practices that it applies to one region are supposed to be applicable to all its other branches as long as they are within the labor laws of that country. In Kenya, the laws are not complicated when it comes to employment and that is the reason why the country has been able to be a hub of various international entities that have set the business because of the ease of doing business.
The recruitment process of any company is supposed to go in line with its objectives and human resource policies that are supposed to ensure that they are not meant to disrupt the operations of the organization. The management is supposed to have the oversight role to determine whether they should engage an outsider or they will undertake the process internally or through their human resource department (Nzioka ; Njuguna, 2017). The Intercontinental hotel has been considered as a trusted organization when it comes to the recruitment procedure because it can announce the vacant positions for the skilled professionals on their official website. The next procedure involves the screening process where the candidates who had applied for the vacant positions must avail themselves at their main branch in Nairobi. The dates are set depending on the number of positions that are available and on which departments are supposed to be filled. Hospitality industries have various departments that revolve across the hotel from the semi-skilled laborers to the skilled laborers who all serve the hotel like Intercontinental in different capacities.
There are challenges and limitations that face the hospitality sector in actualizing the recruitment process and to ensure that they are able to maintain the national requirement of having the right balance between the men and women. However, the hospitality profession in Kenya had earlier been a strength for women and the cultural beliefs also continue to interfere the advancement because some people are still tied to that belief. Therefore, it is the duty of the recruitment agencies or the human resource departments in the hospitality sectors to ensure that they are able to maneuver around those requirements while striking a balance (Wadongo, et al, 2010). The semi-skilled laborers are recruited depending on the duties that they have to play or according to the season when there is an flood of tourists so that they can be able to assist the permanent employees. Effectiveness and efficiency is a requirement in the five star rated hotels and on these matters the intercontinental hotel ensures that the semi-skilled employees get the required training before they are tasked to handle in sensitive areas in the hotel. However, if they are not going to interact with the tourists or guests, then they are casually trained on the sector which they have come to assist like in groundskeeping, dishwashing, or cleaning of the guest rooms.
To ensure that the hospitality industry stays competitive, the hotels have to ensure that they offer quality customer service, unique and attractive product features based on different bouquets, safety and security for the employees and the customers. These features are supposed to be in accordance to international standards of 5-star hotels and that is what intercontinental hotel has adapted to ensure order. These strategies have been helpful in ensuring that the stiff competitive market of the hospitality industry in Kenya has been at the center of acquiring and retaining the best talent that is stirred by the colleges and universities. Within the topmost hotels in Kenya, there is aggressive competition of acquiring the best graduates amongst the institutions that are associated to the hospitality industry. To ensure that the best hotels have a competitive advantage, they beat their rivals to the graduates who have been able to perform excellently on their end of course exams. The continuous cycle has seen the highly rated hotels continue to do better at the expense of the lower rated ones and that continues to affect their businesses and operations (Machuki ; Aosa, 2011). Therefore, the Intercontinental hotel has been able to ensure that they engage with integrity to ensure that they are not going the work and organizational ethics.
The hospitality industry operates like any other organization, and that is the reason why matters of organizational structure, size, and formalization within the hotels where the employees are located (Mose ; Kibera, 2015). Some hotels like Intercontinental have centralized their operations and administration roles to ensure that they are able to control and coordinate any issues that arise in their Kenyan Nairobi branch. The structure formalization is supposed to ensure that the departmental meetings, operational activities that deal with matters of policies and procedures are undertaken without complications. The centralization of operations and activities at the Intercontinental hotel is supposed to ensure that there are few levels of hierarchy, so that decision making complications are reduced. The employees who have completed their training and induction and they are members of staff at the Intercontinental are assigned their duties and roles according to the positions which they were recruited. Specialized employees who operate in the centralized form of administration are usually able to perform better than in any other systems. Therefore, the Intercontinental can also be credited to be successful because they have mastered the right, effective and efficient managerial and administrative setting.
Throughout the literature review the reader is given the opportunity to familiarize with the issues of dealing with recruitment and selection process.