Tourism Strategy: Invest in Tourism Sector’s People
19 Mon, Jul 2010

This article was published in Tourism Update Online Trade Journal on 19 July 2010, by Natalia Thompson

What do you think? Send your comments to the National Department of Tourism at well ahead of the July 31 deadline. The countdown is on with only 13 days left to comment – don’t miss the opportunity to make your voice heard.

Tourism is touted as a labour-intensive industry and its significant role in job creation is often bandied about when South Africa’s high unemployment rate is discussed.

So it is no surprise then that the issue of ‘People Development’ is addressed in the Tourism Sector Strategy, open to public comment until July 31, on pages 75 and 76.
People Development in tourism was addressed previously by the former Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. A Human Resource Development (HRD) Strategy was developed in 2008 in this regard.
“The HRD Strategy was an excellent document which was well researched and comprehensive. The Tourism Business School (THSBS) supported the contents of the document and subscribed to the summarised strategic thrusts,” says THSBS Director, Advocate Don Leffler.
Leffler says the HRD Strategy remains as relevant today as it was in 2008 but it would need to be amended to take into account developments since its inception, including:

1. The dissolution of DEAT and the establishment of the NDT
2. The transfer of SETAs from the Department of Labour to the DHET
3. The establishment of two distinct Departments of Education, namely Basic Education and Higher Education & Training
4. The role and objectives of FET Colleges and Vocational training
5. Changes in the school curriculum to dilute OBE (Outcomes Based Education) principles
6. Rumoured changes to the Vocational curriculum
7. The effectiveness of THETA, which has now been extended to include Arts and Culture
8. Lessons learnt from the World Cup: skills gaps; competencies required; skills shortages.

Most importantly, says Leffler, the HRD Strategy needs to be supported by a comprehensive implementation plan whose progress and performance need to be measured and reported on.
The Tourism Sector Strategy also addresses THETA’s role in sector education and training. It says: “THETA is largely ineffective and they do not assist the industry as best they could in the development of people.”
Leffler says THETA’s accreditation processes are “administratively cumbersome and inefficient”. “The content of training material is often out of date. As with schools, the focus is on administrative matters more than on ‘teaching’ and ‘learning’. The role and support of Private Training Providers need to be addressed in a positive and constructive manner.”
The Sector Strategy talks about the fact that the industry is not attractive to quality people of all skills levels and that retention of quality people is hampered by generally poor training and development, career progression and salary levels.
Leffler agrees saying tourism is not perceived as a career of choice. “This needs to be addressed so that the best people are attracted to the sector, are retained within the sector and are continuously developed to meet changing requirements.”
School students, he says, do not understand what careers are available within the sector and this needs to be addressed.

“The competition for skills throughout the economy and in fact throughout the world is one of the key aspects that needs to be actively and correctly positioned in the evolution and implementation of the strategy.

“Currently the sector does not engage the talent required to deliver on this significant and vital sector in the evolution of economic development. This is in part due to the profile of the industry in the minds of people where in many instances careers within the tourism industry are seen as less than or subservient to mainstream careers such as IT, finance and medicine to name but a few.
“One only has to look to the basic conditions of employment and the minimum wages paid within the sector to see confirmation of this statement. The sector is losing potential skills to competing careers and choices based on the reality of individual economics,” concludes Leffler.

The sector’s action plan provides for improved Theta effectiveness, the fine tuning, management and implementation of the HRD Strategy and enhancing the perceptions of school leavers towards a career in the tourism industry.

THSBS, says Leffler, believes attention should also be given to the following areas:
• The transformation imperative – alignment of the strategy with the needs of the operators – business, SMMEs and individuals.
• An African solution based on the best of Afrocentric and best business practice.
• Attitude and values: we need to develop a “culture” within the tourism sectors (and the country), driven by ethics and professionalism.
• Capacity development:

a. Management and leadership development
b. Skills development packaging for SMMEs
c. Strengthening workplace learning through effective training management
d. Building core and generic competencies for the sector
e. Growing a tourism culture through training
f. Building tourism competency in local government
g. Strengthening the role of industry in training
5. Organisational Support

a. Adoption of an integrated and co-ordinated programme for accelerating transformation in the sector
b. Improved HRM practices in support of HRD
6. economic growth and development

a. Promoting integrated and inter-sectoral approaches in responding to tourism training initiatives targeted to economic development.
b. Embark upon awareness promotion of Government’s economic growth and development initiatives.

What do you think? Send your comments to the National Department of Tourism at well ahead of the July 31 deadline.

The countdown is on with only 13 days left to comment – don’t miss the opportunity to make your voice heard.

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