Youngsters and skills development the future of tourism

On Friday, 2 September 2011, Johannesburg Tourism Company (JTC) celebrated with four students whom they have nurtured since high school, when they graduated from the International Hotel School’s START (Skills Tasks & Results Training) programme.

“We are so impressed with the results achieved with this particular group of students and the success of not only the individuals themselves, but also the way our partnerships with various private institutions have prospered and benefited the students,” explains Lindiwe Kwele, CEO of the JTC.

The group is now also benefiting from a six-month internship with the City Lodge Group, augmenting the initial exposure and training facilitated by JTC.

JTC partnered with the International Hotel School and KWV to extend the training and development of seven promising tourism students, first identified when they were still at high school in Alexandra more than 18 months ago. Kicking off in September 2009, senior high school students from Merniva High School and the Kwa Bhekilanga Secondary School, all with an interest in following a career path in tourism, were invited to participate in the programme.

Some ten students in Grade 11 and 12 who were studying tourism as a major subject were selected, having undergone a rigorous interview process with all stakeholders.

Their three-month training and orientation included tour guiding and site tour training, involving both theoretical and practical work. Together with the Gauteng Tourism Authority, the JTC spearheaded the initiative, in line with its mission to achieve shared and sustainable economic growth in the city, along with transformation of the tourism sector.

The project also supports the Responsible Tourism Guidelines as outlined by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation. These include economic generation for local communities, meaningful connections with locals and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues.

For the duration of the Football for Hope Festival, which took place in Alexandra in Johannesburg from 3 to 10 July 2010, these learners put their skills as tour guides into practice, sharing their knowledge with visitors about places of interest in their township, the host destination.

Fourteen months on, the students have completed  first aid training, in-service training at Emperors’ Palace, and completed the Skills, Tasks & Result Training (START) programme, a six-month training program that is offered by IHS and were funded partly by KWV and Gauteng Tourism Authority. The two students funded by KWV were flown to Cape Town in January 2011 to participate in an induction program before the START programme commenced.

Kwele says: “When we embarked on this collaborative initiative, we were very excited by the potential, far-reaching possibilities for these youngsters. However, we are so encouraged by the fact that we have managed to sustain the momentum on this project and taken it much further than initially anticipated or dreamed of. We are supremely grateful to our industry partners for their support and trust that this will lead to more future collaborative initiatives in training and job creation.”

In terms of the recently-launched Mayoral Outreach campaign to discuss Johannesburg’s Growth and Development Strategy 2040 [], tourism remains a significant economic growth imperative on the city’s agenda. It is an important catalyst to encourage not only the development of the SMME sector, but also in terms of job creation, contributing to economic growth, development, transformation and redistribution.

Pictured above are four students from Alexandra on the day they started their six-month training stint at City Lodge. With them is Phelisa Mangcu (centre), GM of the Visitor Services Bureau at JTC. The students are (from left) Ntokozo Shembe, Luvuyo Shingange, Florence Mailula and Nobuntu Myendeki.

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