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The benefits of employee training and development in Africa

Qatar Airways recently announced Botswana as its first destination in Africa! From October, the airline began operating three flights to Gaborone a week, upping the country’s already healthy tourism sector growth (it grew by 3.4% in 2018). With more tourists flocking to the nation, it’s a good time for leaders in the tourism industry to reassess their growth strategy via ongoing employee training and development.

Oneh Golding, Country Manager of USB-Executive Development (USB-ED) Botswana, says Botswana is currently undergoing a switch to a knowledge-based economy. This means diversifying its economy to become less dependent on mining and agriculture. Tourism is a focus area going forward, with a wealth of potential for now – and the future. The idea is to instill the skills that’ll enable leaders and their teams to creatively utilize available resources in a sustainable way that fosters business development through new avenues of growth.

While the new Qatar Airways flights have all the potential to bolster the tourism sector and up its growth trajectory, this could be stalled by a shortage of labour and skills.  Which means that employers must develop strategies to upskill agile, smaller teams that can easily adapt to the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.So how can leaders seize this opportunity of potential growth? Golding suggests it comes down to investing resources in the right places.

What is the importance of employee training and development?

1. Educating and training employees encourages skills development

According to a paper by the Harris Centre Strategic Partnership at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, ongoing education in tourism is still relatively new. However, this shouldn’t hold you or your team back. As the industry incorporates many different businesses – from accommodation and food service providers to transportation, tour operators and service delivery – practical interventions and soft skills should underline all training initiatives. These can be supported by on-the-job learning, mentoring programmes and individual study.

2. Employees gain the knowledge and skills needed to adapt

As the market develops, a business must as well. Marketing has always played a crucial role in the tourism industry and situations that grow foot traffic to an area (such as Qatar’s flight paths to Botswana) provide leaders in the sector with opportunities to attract new customers and loyalty. To do this, it’s imperative you understand the customer journey and create a marketing strategy that highlights your business’s unique selling point (USP). Ensure your team adds input, understands the vision and plan, and knows how to bring it to fruition. As the ultimate end goal of tourism is about the “experience” as opposed to a product, WildWeb suggests building brand awareness through ongoing, interconnected campaigns that target both previous and new customers. Before a new campaign, set aside time for training sessions so your team is on the same page as your marketing department. Get everyone to share ideas – that’s how to build an inclusive, innovative culture.

3. Employee development can lead to business developments

While no one knows what the future may bring, it’s important to take certain variables into account to understand their potential impact on your business. Business success depends on scenario planning, which The Economist describes as “a structured way for organisations to think about the future”, should be a central aspect of your business’s growth strategy. The University of Stellenbosch Business School Executive Development (USB-ED) offers a Scenario Planning that will help enable leaders to make great decisions and predictions. This, in turn, will allow leaders and teams to plan for unexpected circumstances, such as an influx of tourists or unpredictable weather.

4. Employee learning provides continuous employee growth

As the tourism industry changes, so too will the needs of your customers and your team. To this end, leaders should identify basic needs and requirements for their business and incorporate these into ongoing training and development for their staff. USB-ED's variety of short courses are useful and can be done at the employee’s own pace. Additionally, leaders can use short courses to propel certain employees towards specific roles within the business structure, thus increasing employee retention and skills over the long term.

If you want to upskill your team to cope with all the opportunities Qatar and a global village can bring, ensure that constant training and learning opportunities are available. Make sure your business development plans make ongoing learning a priority, aligned to the potential capability gaps you currently have – and may have more of going forward.

USB-ED offers online training and development courses across a range of areas such as strategy and innovation, governance and ethics, management, leadership, and human resources. For more information on USB-ED courses, click here.

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