by Ray-Ann Sedres, Sanlam Chief Transformation Officer

With the World Travel and Tourism Council projecting significant growth in Africa’s travel and tourism sector, the #Youth4Tourism initiative comes at a crucial time. Launched by the Youth Employment Service (YES) and Sanlam, we believe this initiative has the potential to be a game-changer for South Africa’s tourism industry. By creating over 1000 youth jobs in its first phase and supporting SMEs across the tourism value chain, it aims to harness the potential and talent of our young people to drive economic growth.

The tourism sector, according to Statistics South Africa, is larger than both manufacturing and agriculture, making it a key player in growing our domestic economy. Engaging young people to promote and support tourist attractions through digital content creation, along with upskilling them in the gig economy, can lead to the birth of microentrepreneurs who become the backbone of our economy.

However, there is the sobering reality of South Africa’s unemployment rate and economic transformation, which cannot be understated. Devastatingly, close to 250,000 young people lost their jobs in the first quarter of this year, bringing the total number of unemployed youth to a staggering 4.9 million. While the Youth4Tourism initiative represents a collaborative effort to empower young people and is a beacon of hope for South Africa in the face of these alarming figures, our country still faces significant barriers to youth employment such as limited access to quality education, training, opportunities and the legacy of inequality, leaving many ill-equipped to compete in the rapidly changing job market.

Addressing these obstacles requires a concerted effort from Corporate South Africa. As CEO of the Sanlam Group, Paul Hanratty aptly pointed out following the release of this year’s Sanlam Transformation Gauge Report, true economic transformation is not solely determined by the numbers on a B-BBEE scorecard. It is about the practical steps we take to build a more inclusive and equitable society. Let us not be discouraged by slow progress; instead, let it be a catalyst for introspection and radical change.

The key to genuine transformation lies in going beyond compliance and scorecards. We need to invest in skill development, empower our youth, boost our tourism sector, and actively work towards creating equal opportunities for all. It is not a task that can be accomplished overnight, nor alone but with strong willingness, commitment, and the dedication of corporates, we can set a benchmark for transformation and job creation and inspire others to follow suit.

By harnessing the potential of our youth in the tourism industry and revaluating our strategies for economic transformation, we can spark a wave of change that propels South Africa towards a more secure and prosperous future. The #Youth4Tourism initiative presents a unique opportunity to engage the private sector in this transformative journey, creating a win-win situation for both the youth and the nation. Corporates can play a vital role in supporting the #Youth4Tourism initiative by actively engaging in a number of ways such as funding youth jobs, either through innovative placement partners identified by YES or as part of their B-BBEE or social impact initiatives. Businesses can also donate hardware and equipment or identify events, conferences, and content creation opportunities for Youth4Tourism candidates.

The call to action is clear: Businesses across sectors must join the movement to create opportunities for the youth and it is time for corporate South Africa to take the lead, go beyond the numbers, and embody the vision of empowering all Africans to live with confidence. By acting now and acting together, we can make the dream of a prosperous and confident society a reality. Let us be the change we want to see.

To download your copy of the 2023 Sanlam Transformation Gauge, click here

If you missed the event you can watch it here

Image source: supplied