How Will Free Education Impact the Hospitality Industry?

You may have heard the ideas, discussion, and the potential of a bill being created where community colleges across the nation would provide free college education to all Americans (with some stipulations and requirements to be fulfilled, of course).

Although this is not a new idea for our nation, in 1947 President Truman pushed for this, it seems to be picking up momentum.

There are many examples across the globe where citizens have been afforded the right to free education (amongst other societal benefits). Now, to do a direct comparison of country-to-country to determine "if it works for them it should work for us" would be moot based on the fact cultures are different on a larger environmental context including language, cultural differences, government bureaucracy, political and legal pluralism, etc.

However, studies have shown the more education individuals receive the greater the benefits to individual-self, the economy, societal health, family structure, crime rates, and even the environment. (Behrman, J. R. & Stacey, N. (1997). The Social Benefits of Education. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Retrieved July 22, 2015, from Project MUSE database).

Now, if we consider that many hospitality certificates and degrees are offered through two-year college programs and many individuals working in the hospitality field in a culinary or service level position either join the workforce with an AA degree or have taken general coursework from a community college—it can be argued that the ability for these individuals to be provided this education at no cost would have a very “positive” impact on our industry.

Of course, as with any pragmatic discussion it can also be argued it will be a “negative” impact, and even the balanced “no impact” argument could take place.

Knowing many hospitality industry associations are based on providing education not only for the benefit of their members, but for the benefit of the association's bottom-line, the impact of free education being offered at the community college level could be a game-changer for the hospitality association business.

Regardless of which side you take on the impact on our industry and how associations might have to adapt to this change, my hope is that everyone understands the benefit of a society receiving free education. I think free education at the community college level would be good for the American culture and good for our industry.

This year, both Chicago and the state of Tennessee have implemented free community college programs; possibly this can be part of the litmus test to see the effects—not only for our nation but for our industry.

Do you think community college education being offered for free would impact the industry? How do you think hospitality associations should address this?

Posted by Larissa J. Schultz, CMP, MHA

Larissa is a writer, author, and professional speaker in the hospitality industry. She is also an adjunct professor at Glendale Community College teaching in the Hospitality and Tourism program.

Follow Larissa on Twitter: @LarissaJSchultz
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Editors' Note: The views expressed by contributing bloggers are their own and do not necessarily represent the Meetings Today brand.

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