International Tourism Partnership’s Youth Career Initiative has partnered with TUI Care Foundation to launch the first TUI Academy in Sri Lanka to provide career opportunities for 150 disadvantaged young people.

The three-year project combines classroom training and practical experience to support young people between 17 and 24 years in building a career in the growing Sri Lankan tourism sector. A special focus is put on encouraging young women to take part and give them the confidence and independence to get their careers underway.

Launching the partnership
Speaking at the launch event in Ahungalla, Sri Lanka, Ms Dagmar Wöhrl, Board Member of the TUI Care Foundation, said: “The youth are an inspiration to all of us. We would like to empower these young women and men to start a career in tourism and pave their way for a successful and self-determined future. To promote female empowerment and gender equality we are aiming to fill at least one third of the roles with female students.”

At the launch ceremony The Hon. Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka, Mr Karu Jayasuriya, underlined: “Sri Lanka has identified tourism as an industry with high potential for the country and a strategic field for growth. This valuable initiative will provide education to less privileged children and will give them the chance to start a better life. On behalf of the Parliament of Sri Lanka I wish this initiative all the best. I am sure it will be successfully contributing to the sustainable development of tourism in our country.”

This valuable initiative will provide education to less privileged children and will give them the chance to start a better life. I am sure it will be successfully contributing to the sustainable development of tourism in our country.
Mr Karu Jayasuriya, The Hon. Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka

About TUI Academy Sri Lanka
In the first year of the project, 60 disadvantaged young people will receive a two-month vocational training course on hospitality and life-skills at the Aitken Spence School of Hospitality followed by a three-month practical training in a luxury hotel or resort.

The project works with SOS Children’s Villages to reach vulnerable young people from the local community and support the students during their training. The students are recruited from vulnerable communities and from SOS Children’s Villages, and will include people who have grown up without parents, in a difficult family setting or have experienced other challenges in life. While most of these young people find it hard to find access to a professional education, the TUI Academy is now opening opportunities and supporting them in kick-starting their careers.

Youth unemployment in Sri Lanka
Twenty per cent of Sri Lanka’s youth population are unemployed but the tourism industry, which accounts for 12 per cent of Sri Lanka’s Gross Domestic Product and 11 per cent of its employment, can be a powerful force to open up new chances in life for young people. At the launching ceremony, Mr Dinesh Gunawardena, Minister of Foreign Relations and Minister of Skills Development, Employment and Labour Relations of Sri Lanka, stated: “The TUI Care Foundation and its partners are taking an important step to open opportunities in the tourism industry for young people. Skills development and education for the youth are a top priority for our government. We are committed to provide the support of the public institutions to help the initiative thrive.”

Starting an enjoyable and rewarding career
The two-month vocational training course will cover life skills, hospitality, English and subjects like communication, customer service, health and sustainability. The practical training will take place at key properties of RIU Hotels & Resorts, Aitken Spence Hotels, Hilton and Taj. Upon successful graduation students will be awarded with a certificate recognised by the hospitality industry.

Madhu Rajesh, Director of the International Tourism Partnership, concluded: “We are delighted to be able to use our experience of helping young people in Sri Lanka to support the TUI Academy Sri Lanka, so that even more young people have the chance to start an enjoyable and rewarding career.”

The TUI Academy Sri Lanka is part of the worldwide TUI Academy programme of the TUI Care Foundation, which provides education and practical training for vulnerable young people to open up job opportunities in the tourism industry. Currently operating six projects in four different continents, the programme focuses on empowering disadvantaged young people through personal development, tourism-related training, internship placement and career guidance.

This article was published in 2019 when Sustainable Hospitality Alliance was known as International Tourism Partnership (ITP), part of Business in the Community (BITC).