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KINGSTON, Jamaica; April 23, 2020: Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett has officially launched free online training for tourism workers. The initiative, which is being driven by the Jamaica Centre of Tourism Innovation (JCTI), a division of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), is geared towards assisting tourism workers, who were laid off as a result of the closure of hotels during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the programme, tourism workers are being offered 11 free online courses to hone their skills and improve their qualifications.
The Ministry is reporting that so far, 2,279 users have registered since the programme launched yesterday afternoon, with several candidates placed a wait-list, given the high demand for specific programmes (such as certification in Hospitality Team Leader, Restaurant Servers, Hospitality Supervisor and Spanish).
Speaking after the digital launch, Minister Bartlett said, “We are very proud that the programme is so well-received by our hospitality workers. In fact the portal crashed moments after our launch, due to the influx of interest, but I am happy to report these technical issues have been addressed. So I encourage all hospitality workers to take advantage of this opportunity.”
The Minister added that this initiative was very important because he wanted the workforce to be more qualified after the period of this pandemic, than when it started.
“The COVID-19 crisis has hit our tourism sector hard. As hotels and attractions have shuttered operations and borders have closed all of the 160,000 workers directly employed in tourism have been impacted in one way or another. Forty thousand remain employed while 75% [120,000] have been laid off.
Therefore, I am pleased to announce that we will be offering our tourism workers a lifeline. There is no better time than now for them to retool and upskill. It is a smart investment in staying resilient, which will pay handsome dividends when the tourism sector returns to normal,” he said.
The programme is being administered in collaboration with our major partners. HEART/National Service Training (HEART/NSTA) Trust, will be offering courses free to candidates and paying all the tutors.
The National Restaurant Association (NRA), the owners of the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI), will be offering their signature ServSafe Certification, and the Universal Service Fund (USF) will be supporting individuals who need access to the Internet.
“The USF, in particular, is a critical partner as we seek to ensure access for those who do not have the technology at home. The USF has 193 functional Community Access Points (CAPs) throughout Jamaica, each with 25 computers with internet access,” said Minister Bartlett.
He further added that, “The Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), will be partnering with the USF to use select CAPs in Trelawny, St. James, St. Ann and Westmoreland so that students without access to a smartphone will be able to utilize the CAPs in these parishes to participate in the courses and access course material.”
The JCTI initiative includes 11 free online certifications, which will ensure the continued advancement of local tourism workers despite the challenging circumstances.
The courses are as follows: Laundry Attendant, Guest Room Attendant, Kitchen Steward Porter, ServSafe Training in Food Safety, Certified Hospitality Supervisor, Introduction to Spanish, Public Area Sanitation, Hospitality Team Leader, Certified Banquet Server, Certified Restaurant Server, and DJ Certification.
These are certification programmes, which means that only candidates with actual work experience are eligible.
All courses will include certification examinations and successful candidates will receive certificates from certifying institutions, including the National Restaurant Association, the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute or HEART Trust/NSTA.
Registration continues at www.tef.gov.jm/jamaica-centre-of-toursm-innovation