How We Can Strengthen Tourism & Hospitality in Rwanda

Recommendations from the 2017-2018 Youth Think Tank Report

The 2017-2018 Youth Think Tank research on hospitality and tourism in seven African countries highlights challenges and gaps and suggests measures to address them. It calls for specific actions. The findings also identify a “missing role” in the sector — that of promoters who can support its growth. It calls on actors, who might not be intentionally working to support the sector, to take a more active and decisive role in doing so.

Governments must take the step of prioritizing youth engagement and sector development, mobilizing resources to support youth to shape the agenda, and developing a supportive policy structure to deliver this. Training institutions must take a stronger leadership role in the sector, helping to develop industry standards that respond to priorities identified by and delivered for young people. Organizations in civil society and those working in communities must play a connecting role, working with young people to raise awareness of sector opportunities at the community level and convening strategic discussions of how to approach sector solutions that incorporate all actors, including young people.

Recommendations for Training Institutions in Africa

Develop programs that are more responsive to prospective employers’ needs.

Training institutions should design curricula that target the priority soft skills identified above, establishing standardized guidelines on how they are instructed and how student performance is measured. They should consult the private sector in designing curricula to ensure that they are responsive to employer environments and needs. They should also design training programs that are more flexible in duration and content, providing a diverse menu of training programs, including professional development opportunities for mid-career young practitioners in the sector.

Embed opportunities for practical exposure in training programs.

Training institutions should include practical components in their training programs by providing direct sector exposure through work placement programs, attachments, or internships. They should work with employers to design these programs to meet company needs as well as building in training and experience with priority hiring skills. Additionally, they should provide pre-employment services to graduating students in the form of coaching, mentoring, and field visits to help enhance their practical skills while also expanding their network.

Recommendations for Employers in Africa

Broaden recruitment

Prospective employers should communicate opportunities through means other than print media. They should consider how best to make use of existing informal social networks to communicate available positions.

To better assess potential candidates, employers should contribute to the development of industry guides on soft skills measurement and integrate these into their recruitment processes. They should incorporate more practical exercises in recruitment to assess young candidates’
soft skills and practical exposure.

Allow for employees’ continuous skill development.

In order to maximize what young employees can learn through their practical experience, employers should consult with training institutions to formalize the on-the-job training that they offer. They can do so by collaborating with the training institutions to offer short course certificates for the on-the-job training the employers offer following a well-structured, high-quality training module. They should make intentional time and cost investments to ensure on-the-job training is a priority. This could include developing practical training centres as social enterprises, providing services, and training youth at the same time.

Intentionally design business policies that support employee retention.

Employers and policymakers should put employee-protective policies into place, particularly around maternity leave to accommodate young women’s gender roles in their families. Employers should also support staff retention by developing a range of non-financial incentives to encourage young employees to continue with the company. These non-financial incentives are best structured around providing leadership and learning opportunities, such as job rotations, formalized skill growth opportunities, secondments, and mentorship arrangements.

Deepen promotion opportunities.

The companies and institutions that do not have formal structures and mechanisms in place for promotion should build them. They should complement this by providing intentional professional development plans to employees to prepare them to take up these roles.

Where employers are unable to provide salary increases or promote employees to higher roles, they should think creatively about how to reward the additional skills that employees gain through experience. For example, they could consider adding levels to roles, so that employees can move up levels within a specific position.

Recommendations for Young People Interested in Hospitality and Tourism

Take an active role in ensuring you get what you need.

Young people should recognize that they already have some of the support that they require to succeed in the sector. They must leverage their existing social network through their communities and social media to share their experience and aspirations of working in the sector. Where they have success in the sector, young people should promote these stories widely to their peers, highlighting the benefit that they have found working in the sector (low barriers to entry, developing skills transferable to other opportunities, etc.).

Young people should develop job search skills, taking initiative to develop job networks relevant to their role of interest, while continuing to learn and adapt to the ever-changing employment landscape in the hospitality and tourism sector. Where they have needs that are unmet by existing opportunities, they should ask for them to be designed — being sensitive to ensuring they are delivering the right ask to the appropriate actor.