Harambee, V&A Waterfront Partnership Boosts Youth Employment in Cape Town’s Tourism Sector

Harambee, V&A Waterfront Partnership Boosts Youth Employment in Cape Town’s Tourism Sector

V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa

As Cape Town gears up for what’s anticipated to be one of the busiest tourist seasons in recent years, Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator has partnered with one of the city’s biggest attractions, the V&A Waterfront, to boost youth employment opportunities within the tourism sector.

Over the past 18 months, this partnership has successfully placed over 600 young people in 53 different businesses within the shopping and leisure complex. Key employers include Pick ‘n Pay, First Rand, H&M, and Life and Brand Portfolio, which runs several restaurants. 

Brett Wilks, Project Lead at Harambee, emphasises the sector’s inclusivity: “Tourism is the magic rising tide that lifts all boats and acts as a catalyst for widespread economic growth. As a tourist attraction, the V&A Waterfront draws a diverse clientele, which presents a unique opportunity to employ young people across various career paths, regardless of their prior experience or skills.”

According to data from Wesgro, the trade and investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape, more than 605,000 foreign visitors injected R24.3 billion into the provincial economy last year, supporting 10,600 jobs. These numbers are expected to be substantially higher in 2023 as international arrivals have already exceeded pre-pandemic levels in the first six months of the year.  

Time Out Market, a recent addition to the V&A’s tenants, exemplifies this initiative’s impact, employing twenty-three previously unemployed young people. These positions were filled through SA Youth a zero-cost digital platform that connects work-seekers to employers. Over four million young work-seekers are currently registered on the platform, alongside almost 1,000 employer partner organisations. 

Besides job placement, candidates at the Time Out Market underwent an intensive work readiness programme through a collaboration between Solve@Waterfront, Harambee, and Passion4Performance. This programme is designed to impart essential soft skills necessary for the hospitality industry.

Richard Jooste, Operations Manager at Time Out Market, says he’s been impressed with the candidates sourced through SA Youth  “We’ve already requested an additional 20 young people because of how well the previous group went. Our objective is to train these new recruits to develop a skilled talent pool, readily available for deployment at any moment,” he says, reflecting optimism for the continued partnership with Harambee and the V&A Waterfront. 

Twenty-one-year-old Phumzile from Dunoon dreams about opening a traditional South African restaurant someday. She’s currently studying hospitality and catering at West Coast College. She is now employed as a runner but says on quieter days she gets to train in other departments and is keen on improving her bartending skills.   

“This opportunity has really changed my life. Financially, I am now making my own money and will be able to move into my own place soon. I’m really growing.” 

Twenty-two-year-old Zinhle from Khayelitsha, who helps out at one of the Market’s bars, says she really enjoys being part of a team. “The Market is extremely busy but I’m managing because of the support I get from my fellow Harambee students, we really have each other’s backs.” 

Wilks further states, “Through our partnership with the V&A Waterfront we aim to create 1,000 jobs and collaborate with 100 V&A tenants, using this premier tourism destination as a springboard for job growth.”

Looking ahead, this partnership aims to create approximately 50,000 opportunities over the next decade. Harambee also plans on collaborating with other tourist assets across Cape Town as part of its commitment to fostering more inclusive youth accessibility to economic opportunities.

This story was published in SA Good News, Tourism Update, Cape Town Today and CAJ News Africa

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