Hope shone brightly in the faces of the youth gathered in the Ballroom of Jetwing Blue, as well as within the parents accompanying their children. The stage was set for the inauguration for the fifth Jetwing Youth Development Project (JYDP), this time catering to 37 individuals.
The ceremony began according to tradition; with the National Anthem of Sri Lanka proudly sung by all and the lighting of the oil lamp. Father Christopher Julius of St. Anthony’s Church, Dalupotha formally opened the JYDP by invoking blessings on those gathered, and the proceedings continued with Jetwing Chairman Hiran Cooray, Jetwing Blue Director and General Manager Hyacinth Gunawardene and Director, Operations Negombo Jerome Auvity addressing those gathered.
“More than just another form of education, what we are giving you today is an opportunity,” said Cooray. “The usual trend is to refuse anything given for free, but all the times we have held JYDP we have not charged a cent and the response has been tremendous. You will learn all aspects of the hospitality industry, and all of you will definitely be strong in one or more particular area. Whether it be in the Kitchen Department, or being a member of the front-line staff, we will give you what you need to succeed in life,” he continued.
The participants began their training on 12 June, to get firsthand experience in pre-defined areas of the hotel. Training was conducted from 8a.m. to 5p.m., and was designed to identify strengths, and areas for improvement along with encouraging a fresh perspective on processes. All sessions were nder the guidance of members of the Training and Development Team of Jetwing.
First held at Jetwing Vil Uyana in 2006, JYDP is a PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) Grand Award winning initiative under the education and training category. Developed to face the growing problem of youth unemployment, and to provide a solution for the manpower shortage in the hospitality industry, JYDP depends on the involvement and support of local communities.
Focused to bridge the gap between the unskilled and the skilled and equip them for employment, the JYDP provided training absolutely free to school leavers from disadvantaged farming families in the Sigiriya area. A six-month training programme in practical, spoken English, using role play in a series of real-life situations, with exercises in grammar, general knowledge, western ideas and ideals, was intended to provide these rural school leavers with a working knowledge which would enable them to express themselves in English as well as understand others.