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A Different Way of Seeing: Looking at the Hospitality and Tourism Sector in a New Way

My name is Benedicta Dawson-Amoah, and I am a statistics graduate student from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. Currently, I am working as the Monitoring and Evaluations Assistant for Global Communities on the YIEDIE Project. As a young person, I am passionate about the potential of young people. I believe young people should have a voice in decision-making activities because they are best positioned to find solutions to issues that affect them.

As a statistics graduate, for my thesis I projected the rate of child mortality in Ghana over the next five years. During this time, I read about the United Nations Millennium Goals, now known as Sustainable Developmental Goals, of which I had no prior knowledge. Upon reading, I became inspired by how young graduates like myself can achieve decent employment in a country where youth unemployment is one of the most pressing issues.

Fostering discussions on youth employment in Africa

During my one-year National Service with Global Communities, I had a window of opportunity to apply for the Youth Think Tank. I decided to apply because the objective of the research aligned with my quest to learn and foster discussions on youth employment.

My top priorities during my first two weeks in Uganda were to understand the level at which we, the young researchers, would be engaged in the research cycle, and to build a lasting network with young professionals across Africa. Before the research, I believed employment in the tourism and hospitality sector would be low-income earning positions that require low-entry skills. To my surprise, I learned that jobs in this sector offer decent earnings and provide job satisfaction.

My experience with YTT has been an enlightening and insightful journey. I developed my research and communication skills which have helped me with my current position. The theory of change and research methodology gave me more insight on how young people should be meaningfully engaged in youth-led initiatives. My key takeaways as a YTT researcher were ethics in data collection, designing mobile data collection tool using ODK (Open Data Kit), and qualitative data analysis.

As the only West African country representative to participate this year, I was amazed at similarities in the findings between young people in Ghana and East and Southern Africa on the challenges of accessing opportunities in the hospitality and tourism sector. Young people are aware of how we can use agriculture to leverage on the opportunities in the hospitality and tourism sector. According to one respondent, “practicing agriculture is an economic opportunity that would help address the challenges faced by the food and beverage industry in Ghana.”

Increasing awareness around the opportunities in the hospitality and tourism sector

By fostering discussions on the awareness around meaningful careers in the hospitality and tourism sector, young people would be informed about the income generating activities readily accessible for them.  Providing capacity building and on job training by employers can help develop the requisite skills that will propel young people in entry level positions to advance in the sector and mitigate the challenge of skills mismatch.

My short-term goal is to continue my post-graduate education, to develop new skills, and help find new positions in the research field. In the long term, I intend to utilize the skills gained during my YTT experience to gain knowledge and to improve youth livelihoods by creating peer-to-peer mentoring spaces for young people in my community.

As I look back on my journey as a YTT researcher, I appreciate the opportunity and learning I gained from my experience. Restless Development and the Mastercard Foundation provided an enabling environment to 27 young people from diverse background to share ideas, make decisions, and freely express themselves. And for that I am grateful.

Benedicta Dawson-Amoah is a 2017-2018 Mastercard Foundation Youth Think Tank member.