The Deputy Minister of Tourism, Elizabeth Thabethe recently visited the Highlands Wine Estate in Lions River, to oversee the practical training of wine stewards participating in the department's Wine Service Youth Training Programme. Since its inception in May 2017, the programme has created an average of 121,534 jobs, with 157 employers hosting learners in their establishments for the practical component of the programme.
The objective of the three-year programme, which comprises of 30% theory and 70% practical training, is to upskill unemployed youth and ensure that they are employable within the hospitality and wine industry.
Successful graduates are equipped with theoretical and practical skills on the wines of the world, viticulture, food and wine pairing, bar-attendant skills training and customer care. The programme is aligned with the National Development Plan, which sees tourism as an integral pillar of our economy.
"The National Tourism Sector Strategy has among others, identified a need to address skills shortages in the tourism sector by training and building capacity of unemployed youth and graduates in especially critical and scarce skills in the hospitality and tourism services sector. This led to the inception of our youth training programmes," explained Thabethe.
Motivating the learners was the Highlands Wine Estate winemaker, Thornton Pillay, who has been making wine for the last five years. He took the learners through a presentation of the winemaking process, which includes growing and maintaining a vineyard.
The excursion ended with a wine tasting, a first for many learners who were also taught about the pairing of wines with meals.
"Tourism is versatile and creates jobs, so I urge you to grab the opportunities afforded to you with both hands. We are giving you a chance in life to be the change agents in your communities as well as ambassadors of tourism," concluded Thabethe.