A new generation of wine stewards is being created through a government training programme in the hospitality and tourism sectors.
KwaZulu-Natal youngsters are set to become wine connoisseurs.
Inanda resident Nontobeko Mthembu is part of the Wine Service Youth Training Programme run by the Department of Tourism. Topics she has already been taught include theoretical and practical skills on the wines of the world, viticulture, food and wine pairing, bar attendant skills training and customer care.
The three-year programme has taught Mthembu several skills that have boosted her income. “My life has changed very much. My service at work has changed and that helps me gain more tips. The training stipend helps me a lot in providing for my family and I am now building a home for my mom,” said Mthembu, who is in her second year of training.
Another participant, Nkanyiso Zikhali, said the knowledge he has received helped him to win an Employee of the Month nomination at his place of work.
Zikhali said the training has upskilled him and brought him financial stability.
The programme took 300 unemployed youth and gave them the training needed to become skilled and employable wine stewards.
“The programme is aligned with the National Development Plan, which sees tourism as an integral pillar of our economy,” said the spokesperson of the Department of Tourism, Blessing Manale.
He said the programme is 30 percent theoretical with the rest being practical.
The trainees were recently visited by the Department of Tourism’s Deputy Minister Elizabeth Thabethe. “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 to be change agents in your communities as well as ambassadors of tourism,” the Deputy Minister told them.
She explained that the National Tourism Sector Strategy has, among others, identified a need to address skills shortages in the hospitality and tourism sectors by training and building the capacity of unemployed youth and graduates, especially in critical and scarce skills. “This led to the inception of our youth-training programmes,” Deputy Minister Thabethe told the trainees.