HILTON hotels in South Africa plans to employ and encourage young people to pursue work opportunities in the hospitality sector, as part of a partnership between Hilton Worldwide and the International Youth Foundation (IYF).
The “Passport to Success”, a skills development project run by IYF, was adapted for the hospitality sector and launched in June last year in Saudi Arabia.
It is now being piloted at four Hilton hotels around the country — in Sandton, Cape Town, Durban and Knysna — and in Windhoek in Namibia.
Other partners in the initiative include Harambee, a local nonprofit organisation that trains and places first-time job seekers, and St Anthony’s Education Centre.
South Africa is the starting place for the programme, which Hilton intends to expand to the rest of the continent. Over the past five months, 40 entry-level hotel staffers have been undergoing training to become trainers and will in turn train hotel staff and young recruits, mainly between the ages of 18 and 24.
According to a Statistics SA quarterly labour force survey for the first quarter of this year, the unemployment rate in the 15-24 age group is just above 53%. It has remained stagnant around this region since last year.
“Young people continue to face challenging employment prospects, said Hilton Worldwide vice-president of Africa and Indian Ocean operations Jan van der Putten.
“So it is critical that we take an active role and ensure our next generation of leaders receive guidance and information as they embark on their chosen career paths,” he said.
Mr van der Putten was speaking at the launch of the programme in Sandton.
He also said the initiative would not only benefit young people but also the needs of the hospitality sector as well as the Hilton group.
The programme supports Hilton Worldwide’s pledge to prepare and employ 1-million young people by 2019. As part of this pledge, the company has been hosting events around the world to inform young people about work opportunities available in the hospitality industry. Hilton has more than 4,000 hotels around the world.
In South Africa, the company hosted a career day to offer young people an opportunity to find out about the hospitality industry last year.
IYF Business Development executive vice-president Peter Shiras said the hospitality industry was a major employer that could also offer young people upward career mobility.
“When we look at the whole issue of employment and the need for young people to find good jobs, the hospitality sector is one of the most important because there are good employment opportunities in that sector.”