The National Department of Tourism (NDT) is leading an initiative to encourage youth to venture for entrepreneurial opportunities in the tourism sector in a bid to fight South Africa’s stubbornly high youth unemployment.
The initiative takes shape through the annual National Tourism Careers Expo to be held at the East London ICC in the Eastern Cape from 28 to 30 September 2012. It is primarily designed to expose unemployed youth and learners to various tourism career opportunities.
This is a joint initiative together with the Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT) and Culture, Art, Tourism, Hospitality and Sport Education and Training Authority (CATHSSETA).
South Africa’s unemployment rate is estimated to be at 25% and over 70% of the unemployed are under the age of 35.
Tourism has been identified as one of key priorities of government aimed at boosting economic growth. “Our mandate is aligned to the broader government outcomes which includes the creation of decent jobs and people development,” said Deputy Minister of Tourism Tokozile Xasa.
In order to achieve this objective, the National Department of Tourism, together with stakeholders in the sector drafted the National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS) so as to accelerate tourism growth in the next five years. “Our vision is to grow responsible tourism and to deliver memorable experiences to all our visitors and sustainable benefits for all South Africans”.
The NTCE provides an interactive platform for youth, government and stakeholders to engage and find sustainable ways to address the skills gaps and or challenges in the tourism sector. It will also serves as a demand and supply meeting place in tourism education and training.
In its fourth year, NTCE is an annual event and hopes to attract about 10 000 learners, 200 educators and 50 exhibitors. It aims to narrow the gap between high school learners, students at tertiary institutions, unemployed graduates and tourism organizations. Prospective employers will be on site to interact with young people on different career choices in tourism, internship and bursary opportunities.
As a sector we recognise that education and exposure to available opportunities to the youth is but one of the key milestones towards achieving our goal of creating 225 000 tourism jobs by 2020 as set out in the South Africa’s National Tourism Sector Strategy, and ensuring that there are sufficient numbers of skilled people to fill these positions,” said Xasa. Tourism continues to grow thus increasing its contribution to the country’s GDP, boasting close to 8% of total contribution in 2011. This indicates without a doubt that there are many jobs to be created by this sector.
“The reality is that very few learners have access to information about the career opportunities that exist in tourism, the cost for the enrolling in a tourism discipline is very expensive and the competency levels of educators is low. There are also perceptions that prevail amongst students that tourism the sector pays very little, the working hours are long and there is no career patching or development I therefore would like encourage schools to release learners and educators so that they can be part of this eye opening experience”.
Registration to the expo is free and open to tourism and hospitality learners in grade 9 to 12, unemployed tourism graduates, FET and university students as well as educators and lecturers.