About 200 youth in the North West are set to make a difference in the provincial hospitality industry.
The young people recently obtained their Culture, Art, Tourism, Hospitality, and Sport Sector Education and Training Authority (CATHSSETA) accredited National Certificates in Food and Beverages Services (NQF level 4), and National Certificates in Accommodation Services (NQF Level 2).
They received their qualification at a graduation ceremony attended by Tourism Deputy Minister Elizabeth Thabethe.
The programme was commissioned by the national Department of Tourism in 2011.
The programme forms part of the National Hospitality Youth Training Programme, which is a continuous initiative that seeks to afford young people with the necessary skills that will enable them to be employable in the hospitality industry.
The Deputy Minister encouraged graduates to use their qualification to change their lives for the better.
"This programme offers courses that are accredited, and that is done deliberately so that you can be employable or start your own businesses.
"This means that you have been given a chance to gain practical experience and be absorbed into the job market and the entire industry," said the Deputy Minister at the event held in Potchefstroom.
The Deputy Minister encouraged the unemployed youth who are interested in the tourism industry to update their profiles within their respective municipalities. This would help them to be considered for programmes like the one offered by the department.
"As government this is how we can really show that progress is being made in changing the landscape and making interventions to address challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality," she said.
Tourism MEC Wendy Nelson said the skills that the graduates have acquired will be beneficial for the province.
"[This] shows that tourism can never be undermined, we are proud of your achievement as you have worked hard to be where you are today.
"As a department, we are pleased with the outcome, because this fits with what the President has alluded to, that we have to increase the skills base in the country," said Nelson.
Many of the graduates have already secured employment.
Graduates Lineo Matlabe said the programme has made a lot of difference in how she views the hospitality industry.
"We all worked so hard because we understood what this meant for our families, our communities, our knowledge in the field and the way we see things, has really changed. Although at times it was stressful, challenging and hard we have finally pulled through," said Matlabe.