Mar 2011

Valuable work experience for unemployed tourism graduates

Written by Mbulelo Baloyi

Ubuntu Institute Fellowship Programme

A growing number of young people in South Africa have completed their studies, but can't find jobs. In partnership with government, a Johannesburg-based non-governmental organisation, is addressing this challenge by providing once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for a number of young tourism graduates to gain valuable work experience.

For the second year running, the Department of Tourism and a Johannesburg social enterprise non-governmental organisation are providing internships and working experience to young unemployed tourism graduates. These young graduates do their internships in large hotel groups overseas.

Called the Ubuntu Institute Fellowship Programme, this successful public-private partnership has given the young interns the opportunity to gain work experience in different cultures, while earning competitive salaries.


This has enabled some of them to come home and kickstart their careers. Students can either start their own business when they return to South Africa or receive job placement with the help of the Department of Tourism.

The Ubuntu Exchange Programme has seen the Johannesburg-based NGO partnering with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Group (USA), Whistler Blackcomb Group (Canada), South Africa's national Department of Tourism, Services Seta and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA).

This exchange programme saw more than 252 graduates in the hospitality sector being sent to North America and Canada on a one-year internship aimed at developing skills in the hospitality sector.

Ubuntu Institute

The group of South African youngsters left in October and December last year to start their internships at the four- and five-star hotels.


Ubuntu founder and Chief Executive Officer, Prince Cedza Dlamini said that all the placed interns are paid the equivalent of what locals are paid.

In November 2009, 112 young South Africans worked in the USA and Canada. One of the interns is Ditetso Anikinako, who worked at the Ritz Carlton in Florida.

"I had an opportunity to learn about taking care of people at an international level. My experience helped me to love people," said Anikinako of her one-year experience. Gugu Cele is another intern who participated in the 2009 programme. She said the internship had given her invaluable exposure to international standards of customer service excellence.

Service excellence

Cele said she hoped to use the skills she gained in the USA back home in South Africa to support government's vision of service excellence in the hospitality sector and making South Africa a world-class tourism destination.

The Ubuntu Institute hopes to increase the number of interns from 250 to 1 000 in future.

Ubuntu Institute: 011 566 6815
E-mail: or the Department of Tourism on 012 310 3911
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