30 youth complete the UNDP-Aitken Spence School of Hospitality supported training in the hospitality industry
Thirty youth from Sri Lanka’s North, East and North-Central provinces who successfully completed the first components of their training in the hotel industry conducted by Aitken Spence Hotel Managements (Pvt) Limited, received their certificates on May 28, 2012. The training was conducted with financial support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Part of a joint initiative between UNDP and Aitken Spence School of Hospitality, the three-month training was aimed at enhancing the employment opportunities of youth from Sri Lanka’s formerly conflict-affected communities. The course module was designed as per ILO Certified Standards incorporated by the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management and registered with the Tertiary and Vocational Education Commission. This training will be followed by a 9-month internship at the Aitken Spence School of Hospitality, thereby giving students the opportunity to gain first-hand experience of working in the industry.
Elaborating on the benefits of the training to the participants, Mr. Amal Nanayakkara, General Manager – Training of Aitken Spence Hotels stated, “An opportunity has been provided to a whole new generation of people. The hospitality industry is something that is going to be very important for the future in this country, and these students are going to be the foundation of that industry.”
As was highlighted by Douglas Keh Country Director, UNDP at the start of this collaboration, “The partnership between UNDP and Aitken Spence demonstrates our firm commitment to work closely with the private sector to achieve our goals, including promoting sustainable livelihoods. While this partnership has enabled us to share expertise and resources, it has also facilitated greater linkages between rural youth and the private sector, paving the way for them to benefit through improved knowledge and skills”.
Expressing his thoughts on the significance of this training, Mr. Zihan Zarook, Programme Officer of UNDP’s Transitional Recovery Programme, said, “When we worked in the North and East under the Communities for Programme project, we realized the need to develop human resources in these areas, in addition to providing livelihood and development support. We believe that the skills gained through this programme will help empower these young people to take the next steps in their career.”
The awarding of certificates took place at the Aitken Spence School of Hospitality in Ahungalle, and featured several entertainment items by the participants. Y. G. Senarath received the award for the Most Outstanding Student. He also bagged the awards for the best student in Food and Beverage services (theory) and English Language, while G. Sasikaran received the awards for Food and Beverage services (Practical).
A total of 70 youth will be part of this training, with intakes of two separate batches. This batch commenced training in February this year, while the next batch of students will begin training in August. The initiative will also prioritize female youth, as a way of encouraging greater female participation in the tourism sector and helping them to break down obstacles that exclude women, especially rural women, from engaging in the sector.
The initiative is carried out as part of the Communities for Progress Project, implemented by UNDP through the Transitional Recovery Programme and funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). The Communities for Progress Project encourages skill development, social transformation and the partnerships of different actors. Implemented in 12 conflict-affected Divisional Secretariat (DS) Divisions in Ampara, Anuradhapura, Jaffna, Polonnaruwa, and Vavuniya, it promotes socio-economic empowerment for vulnerable groups with a special focus on gender, youth, and differently-able individuals in multi-ethnic communities..