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What I Think Policymakers Need to Know about the Hospitality and Tourism Sector

My name is Angela Kileo. I am a Youth Think Tank Researcher (YTT) from Arusha, Tanzania, and a sociology gradate from St. Augustine University of Tanzania. While pursuing my bachelor degree, I became aware of  the social challenges facing my country, but I also became aware of the opportunities available to overcome these challenges.

I decided to apply to the Youth Think Tank because I wanted to work with other young people on tackling issues of youth unemployment, education, and climate change. I believed that through research, one can better understand the challenges affecting society, and solve them.

A space to voice the challenges of young people in Africa

As a YTT researcher, my top priorities were to improve my research skills and network with expert researchers. I also wanted to use the space to voice the challenges experienced by young people, and to be part of a team that offers solutions to these challenges.

The YTT gave me a chance to meaningfully engage in the research process. We were trained on how to conduct research, which was unlike other research opportunities I was previously engaged in that focused more on data collection and report writing. As a YTT researcher, we formulated our own research questions, collected data, analyzed and validated it, and wrote the report. With this opportunity, we networked with research experts, and we were also trained on how to improve our leadership and communication skills.

Before joining YTT, I thought young people between the ages of 18 and 24 understood the hospitality and tourism sector and were actively engaged through employment within the sector. I was surprised to learn that young people are not familiar with the sector and are not aware of its potential for youth employment. The few that are knowledgeable of the sector, lack capital, and education to actively engage in it.

Connecting young people to training for the hospitality and tourism sector

Policymakers need to know that young people have a great interest in working in the hospitality and tourism sector (HoT) but are limited by qualifications such as education, capital, knowledge of the English language, and the access to HoT training institutions. Policies should be adjusted so that they favour more young people joining the sector.

To improve the economic opportunities for youth in the HoT sector, I recommend increasing access to education for young people, creating HoT curriculum and training institutions tailored to meet the demands of the sector, and providing young people with opportunities to participate in HoT forums.

Overall, my experience as a YTT researcher taught me that young people have the power to overcome the challenges around them. All it takes is some confidence, a positive mind-set, patience, and of course, the right mentors. Young people can be the seed for change.

Angela Kileo is a member of the 2017-2018 Mastercard Foundation Youth Think Tank.