Tourism sector urged to put more efforts to fight youth unemployment.

WHITE RIVER – Deputy Minister of Tourism, Fish Mahlalela, has called on the tourism sector to put more efforts in to curb youth unemployment in the country.

Speaking at a graduation ceremony to honour Mpumalanga learners who completed the Hospitality Youth Training Programme (HYTP) learnership, Mahlalela lamented over the low number of graduates who had been successfully placed within the industry.

The HYTP is an initiative of the Department of Tourism that addresses skills shortages in the sector, whilst contributing towards the government’s greater objective of creating employment for the youth.

The Mpumalanga graduates received CATHSSETA accredited National Certificates in Fast Food Services (NQF level 3) after completing a 12-month learnership programme at various hospitality establishments in the province.

“Our country is faced with a high unemployment rate, especially among the youth. As a government, we have taken a stance to strengthen our skills development and empowerment initiatives to capacitate the youth to prepare them for the world of work,” said Mahlalela.

“As we celebrate the achievement of the 289 youths who graduated, I am equally concerned that a large number of them are yet to find employment or support to pursue entrepreneurship opportunities in the hospitality space.

“However, I am also hopeful that their acquired qualification will give them a competitive edge as they search for employment, and importantly it will renew their hope,” said Mahlalela.

With the National Development Plan (NDP) target for job creation set at 11 million jobs by 2030, Mahlalela insisted that businesses within the tourism industry could contribute immensely in the government attaining this goal by employing skilled youth, and by continuing to offer on the job experience for those who have undergone similar programmes, the deputy minister added.

“Our skills development training programmes are world-class, and I am confident that we are producing qualified and proficient young people who can provide excellent service.”

He also said that the entirety of the tourism value chain has the potential to help South Africa curb unemployment by offering employment opportunities for competent graduates.

“The multiplier effect of investing in competent youth will not only yield positive gains for the tourism market but our economy.

“I, therefore, call on the sector to boldly invest in employing our graduates, and help us build a thriving economy and a better country,” he said.

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