CDA Snipes Remarks at the USAID Youth Employment Event

His Excellency Omar Abdi Said, Minister of Labor in charge of Formalization and Social Protection,
Mr. Mahamoud Omar Guelleh, ANEFIP Director General,
Mr. Osman Abdi Mohamed, Directeur General of Djibouti’s Tourism Office,
Mr. Nicolas Froger, Director General of the Djibouti Palace Kempinski,
Dear representatives of the hotels and hospitality industry,
Dear Beneficiaries,
Honorable Guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honor to join you today to celebrate the hospitality workforce readiness training initiative by USAID’s Youth Employment program.

Maya Angelou, the celebrated American author, poet, and civil rights activist, said, “Nothing will work unless you do.” So that’s what we’re here to do, to put you to work.

The United States, through its Agency for International Development, is proud to partner with Djibouti to address unemployment and help Djiboutian youth develop the skills they need to excel in the growing Djiboutian economy.

The hotel industry in Djibouti, and the hospitality sector more generally, offers expanding prospects for employment. It is a sector where critical work skills like teamwork, problem solving, and decision making are learned and developed. It is a great place to start a career.

Djiboutians participating in USAID’s Youth Employment program receive intensive training, on-the-job education in the hotel sector, and a practical transition to succeed in the job market. These on-the-job training opportunities are foundational. This is not book learning; it is real experience. The program is designed to ensure future employees – I speak of you who are in the program, you, future employees – will adapt quickly to the workplace and meet the rigorous standards of the private sector.

What’s more, the program itself is a great example of a successful public-private partnership. I applaud the Kempinski and the other private sector companies involved in this initiative. By joining with you, we can collectively address youth employment and meet Djibouti’s ambitious goals for economic growth.

Programs like this also hold the promise of offering opportunity across more of Djiboutian society. We sometimes call this equity, but what it really means is that the labor market is more open to more of you.

I would like to thank all stakeholders involved in this program, without whom it would not be possible, and in particular the leadership of the Ministry of Labor.

On a personal note, I wanted to add that the first job I had after college was in a hotel. The position was bellboy, valet, and room service waiter all rolled into one. I had responsibility for people’s luggage, their cars, their breakfast and dinner, and ultimately their experience, whether they were on vacation or on business, visiting family, or just looking for some rest. I made friends, met famous people, and left with many, many stories to recount later. Most importantly, by working alongside my colleagues in the kitchen, in housekeeping, and behind the front desk, I learned about business, teamwork, and customer service, all skills I have used in every job I have had since. The hospitality sector is challenging and rewarding, and I hope each and every one of you finds your experience as fulfilling as mine was.

Please seize this opportunity to learn and challenge yourselves. Your success is a success for all of us.

Thank you.