Organizations looking to operate successfully have realised that they need to contribute to and invest in infrastructure, training and education within the countries where they operate to facilitate an increase in local talent capable of filling the roles that companies create.
Tourism is one of the world’s biggest employers and the hotel industry recognises the benefit of investing in, recruiting and developing local talent in the communities in which they serve, and are rallying to attract, empower, upskill, nurture and retain their homegrown talent.
BON Hotels, a hospitality company that owns, manages and markets hotels throughout Africa, has a Learnership Programme that is geared towards school leavers wanting to pursue a career in hospitality. It involves on-the-ground work experience coupled with in-house or external training that has proved to be a successful way to fast-track skills development in the industry.
Similarly, other hotel groups have apprenticeship programmes that run on much the same premise whereby apprentices study for a set period at a college, university or hotel school, and then spend time gaining experience and training in the workplace.
General Manager of BON Hotels Bloemfontein Central, Pieter van Rooyen, says that it is important for them to invest in local talent, and that by nurturing this talent they are educating and empowering the community at large. In the eighteen years Van Rooyen has worked at the hotel he has seen approximately 46 hospitality management students and 26 professional cookery students who have trained with them, graduate, three of whom still work at the hotel.
Suitable candidates under the age of 23 are invited for an interview and if successful will undergo a year of Orientation Training which takes them through each department. Upon successful completion, they are invited for an interview with BON Hotels Head Office to enrol for a three-year in-service training programme. Placement at a hotel within the group is not guaranteed but they will attempt to find the candidate work at a hotel or assist in finding a place for them.
Puseletso Malumise, Assistant F&B Manager at BON Hotel Bloemfontein Central, has been with the hotel for 5 years. After graduating she worked her way up from a trainee manager to a receptionist to her current position. Puseletso says the opportunities the Learnership Programme provided enabled her to reach her potential and achieve her goals. “I am humbled by the fact that we are entrusted to deliver – this keeps me motivated to always give of my best and a happy guest is the greatest reward for a job well done.” Farryn Bowers, an intern at BON Hotel Riviera on Vaal, says she takes the program very seriously, given the opportunities it presents to grow and learn about the industry at every level, and whilst challenging, the experience is exceptionally rewarding.
The importance of training a local workforce creates a long-term solution to the future of any industry and will also be beneficial to the economy. There remain substantial challenges in recruiting, developing and retaining local members of staff but the fact that these concerns have been highlighted and are being tackled is a big move in the right direction.