YCI graduate shows how the hospitality industry can support life changing opportunities

A young graduate of a life-changing employability programme will be attending AHIF to describe how he went from an orphan with limited life chances to a chef in a top hotel, economically independent and supporting his siblings.

Dalitso Mwanza left school to look for work to help his grandmother provide for her six orphaned grandchildren, but a lack of skills meant he struggled to find employment.

Dalitso was supported by SOS Children’s Villages which introduced him to the Youth Career Initiative (YCI) an employability programme which partners with local hotels and gives disadvantaged young people the chance to learn a range of skills throughout a variety of departments.

The programme at Radisson Blu Lusaka, Zambia, supported Dalitso to discover a talent for work in the kitchen. His dedication and enthusiasm throughout the training and mentoring process convinced managers to offer him a role once the programme was completed, giving him a future he could never have envisaged before.

Dalitso said, “I gained so much from the programme. I’ve heard it said that any tool is put to good use if done so with pride and skill. The skills I learned at the hotel have helped me start to build a career, but also become financially independent so I can support myself and my family.”

Now Dalitso is coming to AHIF (Africa Hotel Investment Forum) to showcase his skills at the event hosted by Radisson Blu Kigali, but also to highlight the value the hospitality industry can bring to partnerships with programmes like YCI.

Marius Wolmarans, General Manager, Radisson Blu Lusaka said, “In Zambia, where unemployment is an everyday reality for young people, it is important to remember that for every employment opportunity we create, we can feed multiple mouths. It is easy to donate money, time, equipment; but this is short-lived. If we can provide young people with the skills they need to build a career, we enable them to build better futures for themselves and their communities.”

Radisson Blu Hotels and parent company Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group are a global partner of YCI and successfully participate the employability programme in seven countries.

YCI is rapidly expanding in the region having already helped over 4,350 young people around the world to develop skills and take the first step in their career. 85% of these young people have gone on to find work or pursue further education.

Hotels like Radisson Blu Kigali are part of the success story as they will begin partnering YCI in 2018, but more hotels are needed and financial support of the charitable programme is essential. Just US$1,000 will enable YCI to support one disadvantaged young person into work and local businesses can help fund the programme here.

One business which is already helping YCI carry out its award-winning work is Bench, the organisers of AHIF.

CEO Jonathan Worsley said, “One of the great things about the hospitality industry is that it is possible to build a career by starting at the very bottom and working one’s way to the very top. The great thing about YCI is that it is helping thousands of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to put their foot on the first rung of that ladder. I am so looking forward to meeting General Managers whose careers began with a leg up from YCI. I am also very much looking forward to meeting AHIF delegates who have committed to back this vision too.”

Inge Huijbrechts, Global VP Responsible Business, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group said, “The Youth Career Initiative is a programme that has an important positive impact on the lives of the graduates and their families, and through its global impact, it also contributes to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 8, Good jobs and economic growth. We are proud to be a key YCI partner and will continue to grow our participation.”