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Hospitality jobs are cooking

Cooking needs to be made more sexy to school leavers, a conference on the skills crisis in the hospitality industry heard yesterday.

Southern Sun communications director Bill Gallagher said yesterday: �Jamie Oliver, like him or not, has put the industry on the map and has even managed to make a sex symbol out of chefs.�

He was speaking at a symposium at the University of Johannesburg�s School of Tourism and Hospitality aimed at addressing the skills shortage.

�We have 3500 South Africans in Dubai and about 10000 in London. We cannot begrudge them for leaving because people in this industry by their very nature are explorers but we need them to come back one day and add value to the industry locally from their exposure,� Gallagher said.

A skills audit by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism estimates that over the next three years 79000 people need to be trained for the 2010 Soccer World Cup, which is expected to bring 450000 visitors to South Africa. Jobs expected to be created include 24100 cooks and chefs, 23500 waiters, 15000 cleaners, 7800 cashiers and 8000 managerial staff.

Director of the School of Tourism and Hospitality Daneel van Lill said barriers such as high fees, training quality and lack of knowledge of opportunities in the industry were problematic, especially for the black community.

Lill said the school was lucky to have support from private business in the form of bursaries worth R400000 for deserving and previously disadvantaged students.

The school�s bursary fund is supported by its Golden Circle Alumnus, the US-based Waterford Group and the Kerzner family, which established a R3-million fund in memory of Sun International founder Sol Kerzner�s son Butch.

The first two recipients will benefit from the school�s fund next year, and 10 students in 2009.

Waterford chairman Len Wolman said the industry had failed to highlight hospitality as a choice for school leavers.

The group provided five School of Tourism and Hospitality students with an 18-month internship every year for exposure to the global hospitality industry.

�We have not done well to inform parents and school kids about the career paths in this industry and prospects for growth,� he said.

�The other challenge we face is that, as much as we need more skills, we need to ensure that quality is not compromised by the need for quantity.�

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