Chobe Game Lodge’s Skills Development Program Empowers Youth

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For 50 years, the iconic Chobe Game Lodge has conducted its eco-tourism activities in the Chobe National Park, on the banks of the Chobe River and since then community development and empowerment have been at the heart of its operations.

With the employment demographic largely favourable to the Chobe community, the Lodge would later develop programs aimed at empowering other disadvantaged groups of society – women and the youth. This ethos aligns seamlessly with that of other Chobe Holdings Limited subsidiaries, under which Chobe Game Lodge falls.

Of these programs, the multi-pronged skills development program, which started as the youth empowerment training program, and later evolved to the newly revamped Hospitality Skills Development program has been ongoing for over 20 years and has imparted skills on out-of-school youth across Chobe and the country at large, empowering them to be compatible with work market.

The program has since its inception enrolled over 350 trainees and employed over 100 with some leaving after gaining the training and experience.

Chobe Game Lodge’s Human Resources Manager Shiyani Tsietso has shared that it is the relationship between the lodge and Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC) that birthed the Youth Empowerment Training Program in 2006 with an agreement to train out school youth.

“The aim was to equip or empower the youth of Chobe with real-life work experience. We trained youth in our food and beverages departments to get experience as kitchen porters, chefs, waiters, and bar salespeople,” Tsietso revealed,

By the time BNYC stopped the program, in 2020 due to Covid 19, the initiative had trained more than 300 youth, and employed 70, and some of those who started with the program in 2006 are still with the lodge and in commanding positions.

Following the Covid-19 era, Chobe Game Lodge went solo and started a similar program, a game changer whose intention was to keep out-of-school youth off the streets and from the many social ills in society that include drug abuse among others.

“We call this program Hospitality Skills Development, and this program we have included laundry, maintenance, and the guides department,” Tsietso said.

The program, a CSR initiative aimed at giving back to the community the lodge operates, has also been beneficial to the operation as it creates a pool of people from which to employ when there are vacancies, Tsietso said.

“Since October 2022, we have enrolled and trained 47 youth and employed 14 of which some left and 10 remain in our employ.”

The program also helps the mental well-being of Chobe Game Lodge employees, and as Tsietso put it, ‘these youths are the children of our employees, meaning it helps reduce stress on them when their children are just sitting home doing nothing.”

The famous Chobe Angels, the all-female guiding team at Chobe Game Lodge has become a beneficiary of the hospitality skills development program as it creates a pool of female-trained professional guides to employ. The guiding department has two trainee guides at any given time.

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