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MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica; April 10, 2018: The Ministry of Tourism is providing $100 million in a collaborative effort with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, to launch the first certification programme for high school students to gain entry level qualification in tourism.
Disclosing the sum involved, Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett said there has been agreement with Education Minister, Hon Ruel Reid “to put in $100 million to establish, a curriculum in high schools for the certification of students in hospitality, starting September.”
The announcement came, as both minsters gave keynote addresses at the historic graduation of over 150 hospitality workers to be graduated by the Jamaica Centre of Tourism Innovation (JCTI) on Sunday at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.
Minister Bartlett said the collaboration was part of a wider programme being pursued by both ministries “and it is an important part of the whole stage of development of the professional path in the human development strategy of the Ministry of Tourism under the 5x5x5,” a growth strategy to achieve 5 million tourists visiting Jamaica in 5 years and enabling the country to earn US$5 billion.
The human capital development programme also includes Team Jamaica educating and generally sensitizing tourism workers at the broad grass root level to what the industry is all about; HEART National Training Agency providing training in various areas of competence for entry level into the industry; tertiary level institutions providing academic qualification in hospitality; and culminating in JCTI certifying professionals in the various areas and offering scope for continued advancement in the sector.
Minister Bartlett said the JCTI was eight years in the making and he welcomed “the partnership that we’ve been able to forge with the Ministry of Education in helping to build out this strategy of human capital development which has been so much a part of what we want to do in tourism.”
To rousing applause, he acknowledged the pioneering graduates for being the trailblazers and admitted that, “it is for me a deeper sense of accomplishment based on not just a commitment, a vision and a direction but a deep emotion, not for the like but absolutely for the love.”
He said the ultimate goal was for “value added as we want to take the knowledge that we have from the pursuit of information gathering that we have been engaged in over the years and convert that knowledge into material value.”
Endorsing the JCTI initiative, Minister Reid pointed to a number of social needs and said if the society was going to pull people out of poverty, it had to make sure that the tourism product thrived so that the benefits could be used to tackle social problems.
He implored the graduating supervisors to understand that now that they have been trained and certified, “your whole perspective has been opened up and you have to ask yourself, am I in the right industry, because, if you’re in the right industry you need to deliver the kind of services that are consistent.”
Minister Reid underscored that the tourism investment in training was not final, urging the graduates to seek to move from being a supervisor to a manager, then on to being a general manager and ultimately to become owner of a hotel or an attraction.
Stressing the importance of innovating to stay ahead of the game, Minister Reid spoke of “the need of a culture that invests in human capital development” and to that end, he said he wanted a firm MOU (memorandum of understanding) “or we’re going to have to put this in law” that hotel operators, owners of hotels and owners of industry “need to set aside a minimum of three weeks per year for professional development.” He stressed that “It is necessary.”
Of the over 150 graduates, 75 have been certified as hospitality supervisors; 13 lecturers and 12 students with Certification in Hospitality Analytics (CHIA); 11 completed the American Culinary Federation (AFC) certification; 2 ACF Certified Executive Chefs have received certification as Certified Evaluators and 50 from the Centre of Occupational Studies programme as supervisors.