TUI Care Foundation has launched its first TUI Academy in Sri Lanka to provide career opportunities for 150 disadvantaged youths. In partnership with Youth Career Initiative, the three-year project combines classroom training and practical experience to support young people aged 17 to 24 in building a career in the growing Sri Lankan tourism sector. A special focus is on encouraging young women to take part and give them the confidence and independence to get their careers underway.
Speaking at the launch event in Ahungalla, Sri Lanka, Ms Dagmar Wöhrl, Board Member of the TUI Care Foundation, said: “Young people are an inspiration to all of us. We would like to empower these young women and men to start a career in tourism and pave their way for a successful and self-determined future. To promote female empowerment and gender equality we are aiming to fill at least one third of the roles with female students.”
At the launch ceremony The Hon. Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka, Mr Karu Jayasuriya, explained: “Sri Lanka has identified the tourism as an industry with high potential for the country and a strategic field for growth. This valuable initiative will provide education to less privileged children and will give them the chance to start into a better life. On behalf of the Parliament of Sri Lanka I wish this initiative all the best. I am sure it will be successfully contributing to the sustainable development of tourism in our country.”
In the first year of the project, 60 disadvantaged young people will receive a two-month vocational training course on hospitality and life-skills at the Aitken Spence School of Hospitality followed by a three-month practical training in a luxury hotel or resort.
The project works with SOS Children’s Villages to reach vulnerable young people from the local community and support the students during their training. The students are recruited from vulnerable communities and from SOS Children’s Villages, and will include people who have grown up without parents, in a difficult family setting or have experienced other challenges in life. While most of these young people find it hard to find access to a professional education - the TUI Academy is now opening opportunities and supporting them in kick-starting their careers.
20% of the younger generation in Sri Lanka are unemployed but the tourism industry, which accounts for 12% of Sri Lanka’s Gross Domestic Product and 11% of its employment, offers them the chance to find a more positive future. At the launch ceremony, Mr Dinesh Gunawardena, Minister of Foreign Relations and Minister of Skills Development, Employment and Labour Relations of Sri Lanka, stated: “The TUI Care Foundation and its partners are taking an important step to open opportunities in the tourism industry for young people. Skills development and education for the youth are a top priority for our government. We are committed to provide the support of the public institutions to help the initiative thrive.”
The two-month vocational training course will cover life skills, hospitality, English lessons and subjects like communication, customer service, health and sustainability. The practical training will take place at key properties of RIU Hotels & Resorts, Aitken Spence Hotels, Hilton and Taj. Upon successful graduation students will be awarded with a certificate recognized by the hospitality industry.
Madhu Rajesh, Director of the International Tourism Partnership, concluded: “We are delighted to be able to use our experience of helping young people in Sri Lanka to support the TUI Academy Sri Lanka, so that even more young people have the chance to start an enjoyable and rewarding career.”
The TUI Academy Sri Lanka is part of the TUI Care Foundation’s worldwide TUI Academy programme, which provides education and practical training for vulnerable young people and opens up job opportunities in the tourism industry. There are currently six operating projects in four different continents, and the programme focuses on empowering disadvantaged young people through personal development, tourism-related training, internship placement and career guidance.