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Jetwing Hotels reaffirms its commitment to empower youth on World Youth Skills Day

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Travel and tourism is one of the world’s largest employers. By 2026, approximately 86 million new jobs are expected to be filled globally. The future success of the industry depends on whether today’s youth are equipped with the right skills to meet this demand.  However, many young people across the world lack the minimum level of skills required to gain high quality jobs and as a result are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults. 

For over four decades, Jetwing Hotels has closely worked with the local communities to enhance their livelihoods and living standards. In 2006, prior the opening of Jetwing Vil Uyana, the Jetwing Youth Development Program (JYDP) was launched with the aim of mitigating youth unemployment in the country as well as addressing the manpower shortages faced by the tourism industry in Sri Lanka. 

With the 30th program coming to an end, JYDP has been successfully conducted in areas such as Dambulla, Sigiriya, Tissamaharama, Negombo, Batticaloa and Wellawaya, creating an opportunity for youth from challenging backgrounds to develop both employment and life skills, an invaluable first step into seeking employment at any hotel.

Over a six-month period, participants gain exposure into Front Office, Housekeeping, Kitchen and Food & Beverage operations free of charge. As a hospitality brand committed to diversity and inclusion, the training program offers equal opportunities for both men and women. 

Over the years, JYDP has received many local and international accolades acknowledging the positive impact of the program; PATA Grand Award in Education & Training Category (2007), Best Sustainability Project at Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Awards (2014), The Lufthansa City Center (LCC) social award (2015), and PATA Grand Award in Education & Training Category (2016) to name a few. 

TharshigaYogeshwaran, a student at Kokuvil Hindu College was one of the participants of the 11th JYDP held in Karainagar, Jaffna in 2015. At an early age, Tharshiga developed a passion for the industry through the many exciting stories related by her relative in travel and tourism.  Even though she wanted to pursue this dream there was no direct access to employment in the industry. It was during this time that her friend introduced her to the Jetwing Youth Development Program. 

“This was one of the most unforgettable experiences in my life as I had the opportunity to work alongside colleagues that share a common goal of showcasing genuine and personalised Sri Lankan hospitality to travellers.” 

Tharshiga’s aim is to encourage more women to join this exciting global industry. Her positive attitude, dedication and guest centric approach has helped her secure the role of Receptionist at Jetwing Jaffna.  There are moments in life, regardless of how well the future is planned, you will be faced with various challenges and diversions and the most prudent manner to move forward would be to realize the change could open up many new opportunities. As a student at Uduppiddy American Mission College, M. Thuthirajah aspired to be a doctor. However, after completing his Advanced Level examination Thuthirajah enrolled himself in a professional cookery course at Sarvodaya which resulted in him being a part of the Jetwing Youth Development Program. 

Today, as a Food & Beverage associate Thuthirajah, says: “I have no regrets about not pursuing a career in medicine. This was an enormous learning opportunity, from the professional expertise of senior management to stimulating experiences in Yala and Pottuvil, it helped build confidence and learn new skills that significantly contributed to my career.”

Thuthirajah loves the energy and vibrancy of busy restaurants and the people involved. He also believes food is one of the best ways for travellers to connect with the Sri Lankan culture and takes great pride in creating unique yet authentic dining experiences that transport one through the sights, smells and tastes of the local cuisine.

Jetwing Jaffna is testament to the positive change the training program has made to a local community. The hotel opened in early 2016 and to date over 60% of its team is made up of JYDP graduates. Many had little idea about working in the hotel industry before enrolling, but all recognised that the program was a rare and real opportunity to carve out a future. Jetwing Jaffna was also awarded TripAdvisor Certificates of Excellence in 2017, 2018 and 2019 especially for its impeccable service. 

Jetwing Hotels Chairman Shiromal Cooray said: “For my father, Herbert Cooray, the success of Jetwing Hotels was not merely about the number of guests at a property. He always wanted to uplift the surrounding community by giving opportunities to the disadvantaged and valued enthusiasm and a positive attitude as much as formal qualifications. We are extremely proud to continue his vision by creating opportunities for the younger generation, so they have the freedom to achieve their full potential and make dreams a reality.”

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