Hilton aims at giving SA youth opportunities in hospitality industry

Thato Mphasha (Supplied)
Thato Mphasha (Supplied)

Due to its lower entry requirements the hospitality industry lends itself to being able to create jobs for young people, according to Helen Lebone, Hilton Worldwide Regional HR director for Africa and the Indian Ocean.

"We have seen this in our own journey as a company. We have structured activities around making young people aware of possibilities in the hospitality industry," she tells Fin24.

"These possibilities in the hospitality industry stretch globally and we want to prepare and connect young South Africans to these opportunities."

Part of Hilton's awareness campaign for young people is to go to schools in South Africa and talk to them about what the hospitality industry involves.

"We explain that you can enter the industry as a matriculant and grow with your aspirations and ambition due to our Careers at Hilton programme and its partner programme Passport to Success," says Lebone.

Workshops are run over 6-week periods as part of the programmes. At these workshops young people are taught so-called soft skills, which are important to have in the workplace. It includes how to be assertive, how to work in a team and how to solve problems.

"We find a lot of people come into the workplace just with theory. So, we take them thought our programme and at the end they get a certificate. The feedback about the programme has been good. We also offer short-term work experience, internships and apprenticeships," says Lebone.

"The end game of all of this is that we want to recruit young people. So far this year we have recruited about 257 young people in Africa and the Indian Ocean region."

Lebone explains that the importance of the customer is the focus of the training. The use of technology in the best way is another important aspect.

"Hospitality is a very operational industry. It is about also teamwork and collaboration is very important. That makes soft skills very important and you must be able to solve problems," she adds.

"In our training we want to create leaders for the hospitality industry from an early stage. It is about how you engageing with customer, how you make them feel comfortable. Can you read the mood of the guest?"

Among the many examples of young people who made the most of the opportunities created by the training programmes, are Thato Mphasha started at Hildton Sandton as an intern in 2016. She spent six months rotating within various departments. In 2017 she had the opportunity to intern within the HR department where she excelled in her work and was later employed as the HR administrator. In September 2019 she successfully applied for the role as personal assistant to the general manager.

Lesedi Mafodi started his internship at Hilton in Sandton in 2017. In 2018, even before his internship ended, he received a fixed term contract as a cluster accounts payable administrator. In April 2019 he received a permanent position in this role.

Nontsikekelo Nosilela started her internship at Hilton in Sandton in 2018. In August 2019 she obtained a permanent position as cluster procurement administrator.

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