21 July 2008
Workers in South Africa’s tourism sector can now improve their skills at accredited service providers through a new training programme launched by the Tourism, Hospitality and Sport Education and Training Authority (Theta).
The programme aims to contribute to the improvement of skills and to bring skills to the unemployed, or those wanting to be employed, in the sector.
At least 28 000 tourism sector employees are to benefit from the programme, which is part of plans to boost the country’s skills base in various sectors while tackling unemployment, particularly among black youngsters and women.
Speaking at the programme’s launch at the Kruger National Park on Thursday, Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said she hoped the programme would go a long way in addressing the country’s skills shortage and unemployment.
“South Africa simply cannot afford these high levels of unemployment, inequality and poverty, and this is the main reason why government endorses this initiative of the Abet-Theta programme, in particular and especially if we can show a direct link between skills and a job,” she said.
Major economic contributor
The potential for job creation in the tourism sector goes hand in hand with hosting the 2010 Fifa World Cup, which is expected to create numerous opportunities in the sector through attracting large numbers of tourists wanting to watch matches and be part of the event.
Tourism is seen as one of South Africa’s biggest economic sectors, contributing an estimated 8.1% to the gross domestic product (GDP) and accounting for about 940 000 direct and indirect jobs.
The government aims to increase the contribution of the sector to the country’s economy to 12%, and it is estimated that by 2015 the sector will support some 712 000 direct and 870 000 indirect jobs.
Mlambo-Ngcuka said the government had identified tourism as a priority sector for bridging the divide between South Africa’s “first” and “second” economies, and now classified tourism skills as scarce and critical in terms of the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition (Jipsa).
“It is a fact that this industry offers significant opportunities for young people and for women eking out a living in the second economy,” Mlambo-Ngcuka said.
“As government, working with our social partners, we firmly believe that all provinces can and must benefit from the golden egg laid by tourism.”