On youth and travel in the workplace

In June we celebrate our national Youth day. It is a significant commemoration of a sector of our youth who rose so bravely against the apartheid system at the Soweto uprising – an event that ultimately led to the demise of the old regime. It was a time of both tragedy and triumph and should always serve to remind us of the resilience and determination of the youth to make a stand for what they believe in.

Today, in this rainbow nation of ours, I like to think of our youth as being far less divided. Rather, joined as one against some other giants that we have to face as a country. The recent pandemic has brought upon us some significant hardships and a serious economic downturn, making it all the more difficult for those joining the workforce to obtain jobs in the fields that they most want to be.

The wanderlust is hard to ignore

I am unashamedly filled with the wanderlust and a desperate need to travel and I know I’m not alone in this. There are thousands of young people in South Africa today, who will be dreaming of finding a way to travel as a part of their work. As one who occupies a key role in the Travel industry, I am often asked what the opportunities are for the young who wish to do this. Well, I will not lie, recent events have made it more difficult and the pay for those training in the corporate travel world is not great, but opportunities to travel as you work are still out there and I would be the last to extinguish any young heart’s passion to do so.

Education, training, seek what works for you

If I can give some advice to all those aspiring to travel as a part of their work, I think there are three steps to it and these are education, training and then seeking what works for you. The first thing I would do is remember the words of Nelson Mandela who said ‘’Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’’ In every endeavour, the best education you can get will serve you well, so that’s the beginning. The corporate travel world is no different to any other in that higher education is more likely to place you in a better position at the outset.

Secondly, don’t be like so many millennials who seek instant gratification and huge pay packets. Sometimes we have to compromise to gain complete work satisfaction. Get trained in the right areas if you want to put yourself in a position to travel. A good example of this would be our travel businesses which give good training and ultimately the opportunity and encouragement to become an Independent Travel Consultant (ITC) as part of our Bid Travelambassadors programme. This works very well for working Mums for example – or those with an entrepreneurial spirit and this aligns with what I say about the third step – seeking what is right for you.

Entrepreneurship is something I stand behind 100%, as I agree with the financiers who say it is the entrepreneurs that will build our economy, but I would utter a word of warning to those who immediately set out to build a business that opposes the larger travel companies. This is a very hard road to take and it would be better to work through the ranks to become a supported ITC.

A world of additional opportunities 

Finally, let me just say to those aspiring travellers, it is not only through the travel business that you can accomplish this. There are so many jobs with “work as you travel” opportunities, like Pilots and Flight Attendants (When we are flying again!) and Cruise liner crew, where great opportunities abound and the cruise ships are already sailing again; a buyer or customer service agent in any area of the corporate world – and if you want to achieve your goal and make a difference, be an international aid worker for an organisation like the Peace Corps.

I’ve really just touched the tip of the iceberg here, so if you are filled with the same need to travel that always spurred me on, then hold on tight to your dreams because, with passion and commitment, they do come true!

Stay safe – and stay committed to the future you desire.

LIDIA FOLLI

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

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