Engendering twenty-first century workplace literacy for the hospitality industry: exploring the role of the academic library

Keywords: Hospitality and tourism, 21st century workplace literacy, Academic librarians, embedded librarianship, Meta-literacy


With global competition, sustainable development, and economic growth in mind, organisations are under constant pressure to adjust. In the knowledge society where 21st century attributes are key, the ability to use information towards continuous learning and evolution in the workplace is imperative. Among other qualities, sound workplace literacy is a necessary attribute that students as prospective employees must attain.Student learning must be augmented with relevant experiences to develop a range of literacies related to creativity, innovation, communication, collaboration and the effective use of information in a world where technology evolves rapidly. Higher education needs a better understanding of industry requirements related to the literacies and attributes expected from graduates entering the market. Exploring industry related needs, aligning support and library services accordingly and improving inter-departmental collaboration within higher education will better prepare students for the demands in the challenging and fast-changing world of work.The paper reports on a literature review and the findings of a survey on required workplace literacies in a sector of the hospitality and tourism industry. It offers suggestions towards more effective collaboration between academics and librarians in supporting the development of workplace literacy. To this aim a purposive selected target population in a leading South African hotel group was approached. Evidence abound that there is a gap between the level of workplace literacy support offered to students and the actual literacy needs reported by the target group. Based on the findings and extrapolating from recent research, a meta-literacy framework is offered in support of developing 21st century workplace literacies

Author Biographies

Brenda Van Wyk, The Independent Institute of Education
Dr Brenda van Wyk is Head of Library and Information Services, Central Academic Team, The Independent Institute of Education, South Africa.
Lorette Jacobs, University of South Africa
Dr Lorette Jacobs is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Information Science, University of South Africa.


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