Chance of lifetime for eight

MEAL TICKET: Students, from left, Lifa Kumalo, Akhona Lukwe, Sikelelo Hlulani, Matshidiso Sam, Yolanda Sontsonga, Siphokazi Kondlo, Thandile None and Nokuthula Solomon are on their way to Cape Town to take advantage of new opportunities Picture: BRIAN WITBOOI
MEAL TICKET: Students, from left, Lifa Kumalo, Akhona Lukwe, Sikelelo Hlulani, Matshidiso
Sam, Yolanda Sontsonga, Siphokazi Kondlo, Thandile None and Nokuthula Solomon are on their way to Cape Town to take advantage of new opportunities
Picture: BRIAN WITBOOI

PE hospitality students hand-picked for jobs at Cape Town hotel

Eight Port Elizabeth hospitality students are set to receive a massive career boost after being offered job opportunities at a top Cape Town hotel. The group of students, who are completing their one-year hospitality course at the Ray Mhlaba Skills Centre in Port Elizabeth, will be leaving for Cape Town on Sunday.

The students, Sikelelo Hlulani 24, Siphokazi Kondlo 20, Lifa Kumalo 21, Akhona Lukwe 21, Thandile None, 18, Matshidiso Sam, 19, Nokhutula Solomon, 24 and Yolanda Sontsonga, 19, all of Port Elizabeth, are hoping to make their mark on the industry in the Mother City.

The hotel, which is one of the country’s leading hospitality offerings, asked not to be named.

Sontsonga, who will be graduating next month, said she was excited at the prospect of a new adventure.

“I have acquired a lot of knowledge here at the centre. I knew nothing about hospitality before I came here,” she said.

“I am grateful for this opportunity, and I know this could open many doors for me because once I am in Cape Town, I am going to do my best.”

Hlulani said the Cape Town job was a once-in-a-life time opportunity and that without it and the skills centre, most of the group would still be stuck in the townships.

“It will open doors and allow us to spread our wings. The Ray Mhlaba Skills Centre is our meal ticket and we would like to inspire other youth to take the time and enrol at the centre,” Hlulani said.

The students’ appointment coincides with the centre’s 10th anniversary, which will be marked later this year.

The eight students form part of a group of 30 enrolled in the centre’s hospitality programme.

They will have their first taste of flying when they jet off on Sunday morning.

The hospitality programme caters for youth from underprivileged backgrounds between the ages of 18 and 25.

They undergo a 12-month course, which includes a theory and practical component on site at Conyngham’s Coffee Shop and at the Tata Madiba Conferencing Centre or the Radisson Blu hotel.

Ray Mhlaba project coordinator Caroline Ferreira said: “All our students are special and we are confident they will achieve successful futures.”

She said the centre had been approached by Andrew Brown, the chief executive of Cape Town recruitment agency Ethical Services Company, who requested interviews with students at the centre for potential job opportunities.

“We feel an overwhelming sense of pride – we know that everyday life in our students’ communities is not easy. “We are so proud of them for their commitment to the programme and for their belief in themselves,” she said.

Ferreira said she hoped the students’ oppor tunity would act as encouragement for other unemployed youth to enrol at the centre and commit themselves to training.

Brown said he had been impressed with the drive and passion displayed by the students.

“Our business is more than providing services. We embrace providing opportunities for young people with potential.”

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