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Baker, David Mc.Arthur
Occupational choice: Adolescents' interests and perceptions of tourism and hospitality careers
Ph.D., Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, 2003, 183 pages

The purpose of the study was to contribute to a better understanding of occupational decision-making of adolescents from hospitality and tourism curriculum, more specifically the study sought to investigate and describe the interests, aptitudes and perceptions of high school juniors and seniors. This study was conducted in the Greater Kansas City Metropolitan area within the school districts of Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas. Surveys were completed by 127 subjects at five high schools in Kansas City, Missouri and two high schools in Kansas City, Kansas. The participants were 51 males, 75 females, with 1 no gender response. There were 79 juniors (30 males, 49 females), 47 seniors (21 males, 26 females). The racial makeup was Caucasian 51% (n = 65) with 22.8% African American (n = 29), 18.9% Hispanic (n = 24), 1.6% Native American (n = 2), and 4.7% Asian (n = 6).

A five-page survey instrument was utilized from a previous study (Cothran & Combrink, 1999) to ascertain students' perceptions, knowledge of, and interest in the hospitality and tourism industry jobs, careers, education and training. The survey asked demographic questions and about work experience, other questions addressed students' general impressions of industry job availability, wages, hours, and benefits. The largest set of questions asked students, using a Likert-type scale, to rate their knowledge of and interest in 18 specific industry jobs.

The results showed that the students were far more interested in working as restaurant managers, cooks, chefs and in casino management than any other job category. A high level of interest in casino management must be noted since the advent of river boat casinos in Missouri with some located in Kansas City. The adolescents had a moderate level of interest for jobs in hotel-motel front desk, cruise ships, hotel management and parks and recreation. The study revealed that more than two-thirds 67.7% (n = 86) had "positive" or "very positive" impressions of the number of jobs available in the industry. Overall, the students' perception of the industry was good and interest in jobs and careers were at a high level.