Youth4Tourism initiative takes off with job creation in tourism industry

Youth4Tourism initiative takes off with job creation in tourism industry
Ravi Naidoo YES CEO Y4T content creators, Tshepiso Makone, Sibusiso Zulu, Siyakudumisa Tom and Paul Hanratty Sanlam CEO

Youth4Tourism (Y4T), a transformative private sector initiative launched by the Youth Employment Service (YES) and financial services group Sanlam, has already placed 650 jobs in the tourism sector through which R50 million in youth salaries and gigs will be injected back into the economy.

The initiative is bringing together a wide range of businesses, funders and partners to unlock the potential of youth and help stimulate one of the most significant sectors of our economy.

Youth4Tourism has already seen youth being trained and employed as tour guides, event coordinators, concierges, chefs, guest managers, travel agents, and content creators. These content creators have been placed across South Africa to promote and support tourist attractions in their hometowns and surrounds, through creative outputs like photography and videography.

Paul Hanratty, CEO of Sanlam, says, “Currently, we have 4.9 million unemployed young people in South Africa. This is a crisis as our demographic dividend should be our greatest shared asset. Y4T’s purpose is to help foster employability by growing our youth into micro-entrepreneurs with sought-after, future-fit skill sets. These youths will also help bolster our SMME sector’s resilience and generate content that’ll shine a spotlight on South Africa to turbo-charge our critical tourism industry. We are proud to collaborate with YES on this initiative, and we urge our corporate peers to join us on the journey. Together, we can make real, sustained impact at scale.”

Tourism is a key sector in the South African economy. According to Stats SA, in January 2023, more than 2.7 milliontravellers passed through South Africa’s ports of entry and exit, an impressive number that is poised to grow as the sector continues to bounce back from the pandemic.

Sanlam and YES are the founding partners of the initiative and are joined by other leading corporates such as Mercedes Benz SA, Hollard, Pizza Hut, Fairtree and most recently, Sun International, as well as implementation partners such as Conservation South Africa, RLABS, Youth Content Collective (YCC) and Africa Foundation.

“It’s inspiring to hear the stories of young people who are grabbing these opportunities,” says Ravi Naidoo, CEO of YES. “Tourism is vital to South Africa’s economy and should be our top foreign revenue generator for the country. It’s also a great sector for the employment of young people.  As we look forward to rebuilding our tourism sector after the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to upskill young people and create a talent pipeline for the industry in various future-facing roles.

It’s not only a game-changer for a youth when they can showcase that they have done work for a blue-chip client like Sanlam, but this funding can also be used to support the marketing activities of tourism SMEs around the country.”

Importantly, these jobs being created in the traditional tourism nodes but extend from Namaqualand, through the Kruger to Canyons and into Khayelitsha where young South Africans are learning digital skills at the RLabs Digital Tourism Hub.

Take Thabo Mnisi, for example. He recently joined the YES programme sponsored by Sanlam and is currently working at the Skukuza Cricket Club House (SCC) in the Kruger National Park. Like millions of South African youth, Thabo struggled to find a job, feeling dejected and hopeless. As a result of the programme, he is now able to support his family financially, and hopes to establish his own company one day.

In addition to Thabo, Nomsa Simango, who participated in the same programme, is now a junior chef at the Drostdy Hotel in Springs. Before this opportunity, Nomsa had high hopes of securing work after graduating with a tourism qualification, but she fell into the familiar trap: nobody would hire her without experience. Fortunately, the Youth4Tourism programme is providing her with a 12-month quality work experience, complete with work readiness training. She will now able to support her family from the financial strain they were under.

Businesses from all sectors are invited to join the Youth4Tourism movement, create diverse work opportunities and redefine the landscape of our tourism industry. They can join in two ways:

  • Funding of youth jobs in the tourism sector.
  • Briefing tourism-focused content creation opportunities: identify events, conferences, and landmarks for the creative youth to showcase their skills and support tourism business.

“The tourism sector is a key piece in solving the youth unemployment puzzle and is a fantastic opportunity for corporates and industry players to come on board. If we work together, we can expand our reach, and give the unemployed youth of South Africa, like Thabo and Nomsa, hope for a promising future in the tourism sector,” says Naidoo.

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