Last week nearly 50 graduates received their course certificates after successfully completing their training at the Seychelles Tourism Academy (STA), the country’s premier institution for manpower development in the hospitality and tourism sector. “Seychelloization,” i.e., progressively introducing the country’s own citizens to positions presently filled by a large expatriate body of hospitality labor, is an expressed policy goal by government and its relevant organizations to absorb school leavers into the sector able to start a career and provide full employments for all willing and capable Seychellois.
Like in Eastern Africa, where until the 70s expatriates held literally all key positions in the hotel, resort, and safari lodge sector, a deliberate policy of affirmative action has turned the tables on those days, and it is now largely Ugandans, Kenyans, Tanzanians, or Rwandese holding the top jobs in the tourism industry, with expats now few and far between.
In the Seychelles, although presently only counting less than 90,000 citizens across the archipelago, this is also the aim for the STA – to provide competent, skilled, and well-trained labor to hotels, resorts, and restaurants, giving the young entrants the opportunity to add further qualifications and for the top performers to train abroad and progressively make their way from entry-level jobs into lower, middle, and eventually top managerial positions.
The government of Seychelles had some time ago commenced a program of voluntary retirement for civil servants, many of whom were still in their productive years, and a large number of those, after happily taking their retirement packages from the public service, then retrained to obtain the skills needed to join the workforce again in one of the many new resorts springing up across the islands. Reportedly, over 500 course participants took advantage of short courses to attain entry-level certificates and skills needed to enter work in general service and floor positions.
While speaking with the principal of the STA recently in Mahe, the following manpower requirements were made available, showing that with an estimated increase of about 30 new hotels and resorts over the next three years, which will likely result in the total number of rooms across the core area of the archipelago to rise from presently about 5,000 to 6,691, the needed trained manpower is due to equally escalate from presently just under 10,000 to 14,734. This will largely be sourced from within the island’s population as the affirmative action program to absorb local labor into positions previously held by expatriates is continuing. The figures quoted are based on presently approved tourism hospitality projects across the main islands of the Seychelles and the resulting forecasts for an increased workforce.
Meanwhile, a group of students placed in training programs abroad for the last couple of months returned home to the Seychelles after the completion of their industrial attachments. They had reportedly trained in Mauritius, Dubai, and Kenya while one student was placed at the internationally-acclaimed Banyan Tree Resort in the Seychelles to complete her mandatory in-service training component. Notably, this element of training is supported widely by the private sector, with many captains of industry being drawn into the management committee of the STA to inject expertise and experience from senior stakeholders, who serve alongside their colleagues from the Seychelles Tourist Board and other governmental departments.