Tourism is one of South Africa’s biggest employers, and the hotel industry can play a vital role in investing in, recruiting and developing local talent in the communities they serve. In order to achieve this, BON Hotels has a learnership programme that is geared to school leavers who want to pursue a career in hospitality.

The learnership  involves on-the-ground work experience combined with either in-house or external training. This method has proven to be a successful way to fast-track skills development in South Africa.

General Manager of BON Hotels Bloemfontein Central, Pieter van Rooyen, says that it is important for them to invest in local talent, and that by nurturing this talent they are educating and empowering the community at large.  In the eighteen years Van Rooyen has worked at the hotel he has seen approximately 46 hospitality management students and 26 professional cookery students who have trained with them, graduate, three of whom still work at the hotel.

Candidates under the age of 23 who meet the requirements are first invited for an interview and, if successful, will spend a year doing Orientation Training – this takes them through each of the hotel’s departments. Once the year is up, they are then invited for an interview at the BON Hotel Head Office to enrol for a three-year in-service training programme. While placement at a hotel is not guaranteed, the Head Office will attempt to find the candidate work at a hotel or assist in finding a placement for them.

Puseletso Malumise, Assistant F&B Manager at BON Hotel Bloemfontein Central, has been with the hotel for 5 years.  After graduating she worked her way up from a trainee manager to receptionist to her current position. Puseletso says the opportunities the Learnership Programme provided enabled her to reach her potential and achieve her goals. “I am humbled by the fact that we are entrusted to deliver – this keeps me motivated to always give of my best and a happy guest is the greatest reward for a job well done.”  Farryn Bowers, an intern at BON Hotel Riviera on Vaal, says she takes the program very seriously, given the opportunities it presents to grow and learn about the industry at every level, and whilst challenging, the experience is exceptionally rewarding.