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In South Africa’s Mpumalanga province, close to some of the most celebrated safari businesses in the world, there is a shortage of hospitality training programmes for young adults. This gap is even more surprising when you consider that in the Bushbuckridge municipality, adjacent to the Greater Kruger National Park, there is a 65% youth unemployment rate.

For this reason, travel-industry stakeholders have been excited to see the growth of GWF, which has built on our existing digital learning programme foundation, adding a registered hospitality course. The intention is to connect young rural South Africans to the huge opportunities in the growing economy of wildlife.

In partnership with global industry-leader, Amadeus, and in collaboration with Economic Development Solutions (EDS), GWF’s Travel & Tourism Academy is “demand-led” and the first cohort of 25 students will have the opportunity to walk straight into an internship in a brand new hotel upon completion of their one-year programme.

“Recent demand studies have shown that safari businesses are desperate for young, local talent with the necessary skills to provide a world-class luxury experience,” said Maria-Goretti Awogu, GWF’s Executive Head of Programmes & Campus Operations. “Our 25 students have jobs waiting for them, and, in 2020, based on requirements from the industry, we will double the size of students in this programme.”

The GWF Hospitality Programme is presented in partnership with the South African College of Tourism (SACT) which has enabled GWF to offer the SACT accreditation. GWF focuses on combining theoretical learning with practical training and activities that simulate the real work environment. In addition to these industry specific skills, the programme includes Generic Life Skills essential to equipping students for careers in hospitality (e.g. customer care, workplace communication, telephone and computer skills).

The learning units contained in this first skills programme are:

  1. Workplace Environment (Facilities and departments within a hotel, appearance and hygiene, workplace safety and security)
  2. Workplace Communication (Effective communication, telephone skills)
  3. Customer Service (Dealing with customers, customer needs and complaints, working as a team, dealing with workplace conflict)
  4. Personal Development (Career development and planning, personal development planning)
  5. Computer Skills

“On the practical learning front, this month the students had their first experience in a hotel environment,” said Ms. Kathleen Hay, the Travel & Tourism Academy Programme Manager. It was the first time in a hotel for many of them, and so it was an extremely valuable learning experience.”

These are the first steps in creating a new wave of local talent from Bushbuckridge. It’s early days yet, but the face of safari is changing, and that change must begin with quality tuition, passionate facilitators and work opportunities that are real!

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