Hospitality skills target for 2010

South Africa's hospitality training industry is set to undergo a major revamp. There will be an emphasis on quality training to ensure that the country is prepared with qualified people, systems and resources for 2010 and beyond.

So says Daneel van Lill, newly appointed director for the School of Tourism and Hospitality at the University of Johannesburg. The professor was speaking at the school's first international and national tourism and hospitality colloquium.

About 180 local and foreign academics and business leaders debated key issues affecting the industries, such as global tourism and hospitality trends, the impact of tourism development, opportunities for capital investment, leadership and entrepreneurship, manpower requirements in the industry and the 2010 World Cup.

The meeting highlighted the current skills shortage in the industry and the need for quality training.

A skills audit undertaken for the Environmental Affairs and Tourism Department revealed that skills requirements over three years include 24100 cooks and chefs, 23500 waiters and waitresses, 15000 cleaners, 7800 cashiers and 8000 managerial staff. Industry sources say this is far above the present capacity available.

Van Lill says: "One of the key challenges in the industry at present is that demand for staff far outstrips supply."

With the private and the public sectors in disagreement as to how to deal with the skills shortage, the meeting considered whether skills training is a priority or not in South Africa, just how important it is to get skills training right and, most importantly, what needs to be done to achieve effective training provision.

An encouraging development for South African hotel schools has been the growing support from industry leaders and significant investment by business. The university's School of Tourism and Hospitality has just received significant financial support from hotelier Sol Kerzner, Len Wolman of the US-based Waterford Group and Nedbank among others.

The school is housed in a modern building made possible by Kerzner and other industry players.

Challenges include improving service levels, building a sustainable system, transformation with larger involvement by black women and black staff in general, and expanding basic skills training so that graduates can move more quickly into the middle management arena. Schools also face the challenge of playing a greater role in educational research and development.