A new report has called on Hospitality and Tourism stakeholders to address the gaps that challenge young people’s ability to secure and retain opportunities in the sector.
The report, dubbed, Harnessing the Potential of Hospitality and Tourism for Young People’s Employment, released today by Restless Development and the Mastercard Foundation Youth Think Tank (YTT) says that perceptions regarding the sector need to shift if African countries hope to unlock its full economic potential
“Some young people have negative perceptions about the hospitality and tourism sector and are unable to see its potential for income generation and career growth. Those who are working in the sector do so for a variety of reasons, including the chance to earn a decent income, enjoy a job that is interesting, and contribute to national goals.” The report says in part.
The report, presented by the YTT at an event organized by Restless Development and the Foundation, looks at the challenges and opportunities faced by young people working in the industry. Mastercard Foundation believes that since young people are closest to the employment challenge they face, they are also closest to the solution. The Youth Think Tank (YTT) was established in 2012 to ensure young people were meaningfully engaged in research on key employment issues affecting youth in Africa.
According to a statement from MasterCard Foundation, the research methodology included key informant interviews and focus group discussions as well as quantitative survey data from 350 respondents across seven countries. It captures the unique voices of young people using a peer-to-peer approach, where young people lead every step of the process.
“The report’s findings about how youth perceive the hospitality and tourism sector will provide valuable insight into how we design and implement current and future programs on the continent. We have placed youth at the centre of our new Young Africa Works strategy and we will continue to listen to their voices and engage them at every stage of our work.” Peter Materu, Chief Programs Officer, Mastercard Foundation.
“Young people struggle to find opportunities to gain practical experience prior to entering the job market. While employers prefer candidates with formal training, this is often complemented with on-the-job training to familiarize the employee with the companies’ systems and processes.” It adds saying that employers and employees agree that soft skills are key to hiring, retention, and promotion. Three soft skills employers want young employees to possess are work ethic, positive attitude, and interpersonal skills.
Employers in the sector, the study states, struggle to retain young employees, particularly those from urban areas and young women for reasons unique to each group. Young women also may have family and communal responsibilities that may make it difficult for them to retain full-time employment.
It has therefore called upon governments to prioritize youth engagement and sector development by providing resources that help youth shape the agenda and sector policy.
“The opportunity for the largest youth generation in history to reshape economies is upon us. Having led the research process from start to finish, these talented researchers have yet again demonstrated the power of the insights gathered through youth-led research. This report challenges all of us—including governments, private sector and employers—to invest in young people’s enterprise, build their confidence and skills, and amplify their voices to leverage opportunities in the hospitality and tourism sector.” Catherine Rodgers, Hub Director, Restless Development.
The report makes recommendations on how to improve the sector and its image for young people. However, there is no one actor who can solve these challenges independently. To make these improvements, better collaboration is required among sector stakeholders—government, private sector employers, training institutions, young people, donors, and NGOs with an interest in the sector.