Upskilling in tourist and hospitality sector could help post-lockdown job prospects for low-skilled employees
Share this article:
THE COVID-19 pandemic had proved that low-skilled employees who worked in a vulnerable service industry such as the tourism and hospitality industry, were largely unable to self-sustain their employment as they lacked general business knowledge that would accompany a higher education qualification, said private higher education institution Mancosa academic Lucinda Arulappan.
According to Arulappan, the sector – formerly viewed as one of the most exciting and lucrative industries to be employed or establish a business in – had now plunged into a realm of contingency plans and recovery strategies. “For most South Africans involved in these businesses, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought about sheer distress and disruption as businesses continue to close their doors to the public at a precipitous rate,” said Arulappan.
She said a higher education qualification in tourism and hospitality increased one’s employability.
“While the industry is highly unpredictable, security lies in the fact that a formal education has been obtained, which consequently increases the chances of obtaining employment and gives one a competitive advantage and room for promotion.
“Post-Covid-19 will demonstrate this, as job applicants will find that employers are sure to favour candidates who not only had experience, but had obtained a higher education in the field as well.”
She said a higher education qualification and experience would also command a higher salary, thereby bringing about socio-cultural as well as economic growth for the employee and South Africa as a whole.
According to the Tourism 2020 report released by Statistics South Africa in April, foreign arrivals dropped by 71 percent, from just over 15.8 million in 2019 to less than 5 million last year. The report showed that the Covid-19 pandemic impacted the tourism industry hard around the world and in South Africa, mainly due to the lockdown and travel restrictions that were imposed.
According to the report, the overall number of travellers (arrivals and departures) decreased by 71 percent between 2019 and 2020. The overall number of travellers decreased by 50.7 percent over a 15-year period – from nearly 24.6 million recorded in 2006 to 12.1 million travellers recorded in 2020.
Locally, the direct contribution of the tourism sector to gross domestic product (GDP) was R130.1 billion in 2018 and constituted nearly a 3 percent direct contribution to GDP. In 2018, the tourism sector contributed about 4.5 percent of total employment in South Africa. Last year, the volume of tourists decreased by 72.6 percent, from 10.2 million in 2019 to 2.8 million in 2020.
Arulappan said the residual impacts of the lockdown restrictions, which were imposed on all South Africans from March last year, were still being endured by numerous tourism and hospitality establishments.
The unfavourable economic environment and, more recently, the politically-linked unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, had left many South Africans feeling hopeless as their attempts to regenerate and sustain their businesses had proven unsuccessful.