If you are an unemployed accountant or chef, your job-hunting is likelier to bear fruit at Kasane hospitality establishments than at the Gaborone International Commerce Park or any one of the city’s CBDs that hold the allure of a job on the outside.
This discovery has been made by consultants studying Botswana’s tourism value chain and in the process visiting the tourist town to interview tour operators.
“The majority of interviewees commented on capacity indicating that skills training for staff was problematic. The range of issues identified included the overall lack of skilled staff and the need for training (e.g. internationally qualified chefs). Some enterprises did in-house training but one tour operator noted that some training as only available in South Africa. There was a specific need identified for trained accountants in Kasane,” reads the consultants’ report which was put together for the Private Sector Development Programme at the behest of the Brussels-based Centre for Development of Enterprise.
What the report says is a recasting of the skills-mismatch/shortage problem that Botswana seems unable to solve. At a time that it was still called the Botswana Training Authority and close to a decade ago, the renamed Botswana Qualifications Authority engaged University of Botswana consultants who also found that the country has a severe shortage of “high-skill cooking.” The report notes that while chef training is offered at some government training institutions, “this training is all low level.” At the time of the time of the study, up in Maun, one private provider who was offering low level training was planning to expand as a training hotel but “that was short-lived due to complaints that students were being used as cheap labour, and the lodge is now no longer used primarily as a training facility, but only as an employer for attachments.”
In the main, the report suggests that “hospitality and chef training is a key area for enhancing the tourism industry, which in turn is a key strategic growth area for Botswana.” It goes farther to state that the importance of tourism and hospitality is widely recognised by strategy and policy makers, and development of the tourism industry as a pillar in the conceptual frameworks for export development, foreign investment, and transport as well as the medical tourism concept of the Health Hub.
The recommendation of the BOTA/BQA consultants was that the government could fill this skills gap by: ensuring existing certificate, advanced certificate and diploma level qualifications that are aligned with the national qualifications framework; developing modules to offer as short courses for industry and the public like cocktails, confectionary, food and wine matching, international cuisine, camp cooking, junior chefs; developing recognition of prior learning processes and entry with credit regulations so that cooks with no or low qualifications can enter higher level programmes with credit; offering incentives to attract highly qualified staff with extensive industry experience; investigating implications of offering optional City and Guilds (or other internationally recognised) external assessment for chefs so that graduates can exit with internationally recognised chef qualifications; offering modules in the evenings/weekends so that full time employees can attend; recovering costs by running training schools as fully operational well marketed tourist facilities; developing retail outlets to sell food produced by students in training; and, raising money and promoting training by offering catering at events like careers expo, cultural and sporting events.
At a point when diamonds stop being useful to the national economy, it is hoped that the private sector will be well diversified enough to become the new engine of economic growth. Part of the diversification entails developing the tourism sector hence the need to study its value chain. The PSDP is administered by Business Botswana with the assistance of the CDE which is a joint institution of the African, Caribbean, Pacific (ACP) countries and the European Union (EU), within the framework of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement. The CDE’s mandate consists of supporting the development of the ACP private sector.