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JCTI Graduates to Transform Tourism’s Labour Market Arrangements

Release Date: 
Monday, March 21, 2022 - 17:15

KINGSTON, Jamaica; March 15, 2022: Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says the initiatives of the Jamaica Centre of Tourism Innovation (JCTI) are poised to transform the labour market arrangements within the tourism sector, by producing a highly skilled workforce to meet the growing demands of the industry.

The Minister made the comment during a press briefing regarding the Hospitality and Tourism Management Programme (HTMP) recently, at the Montego Bay Convention Centre. The briefing featured the 177 graduates from the pilot programme of the HTMP, which ran from September 2018 to June 2020. All graduates received an HTMP Certificate from the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute, as well as an Occupational Associate Degree (OAD) in Customer Service, offered by the Ministry of Education & Youth.

"For the first time in Jamaica’s history and the tourism industry, we established a programme in the high school and community colleges, which allows students to acquire an associate degree in hospitality and tourism management. What that did was create the stages of development for tourism workers from high school through an associate degree programme, directly into entry-level jobs in the industry, "said Bartlett.

"For the first time, we are having first-time employees who are teenagers who have a degree coming into the workforce. That sets the stage for a different kind of employment. So, without legislating or accusing anyone of employment practices, we are transforming the labour market arrangements in tourism, "he added.

Bartlett noted that over the years a problem identified in the tourism industry is the lack of structured programs for training, certification, and classification. He, therefore, conceived the idea of the JCTI. 

"The history of tourism development in Jamaica and most places in the world is not predicated on the formalization of skillsets through training and certification, but on informality in many instances and casual employment where the average tourism worker is hired for short periods. Because of that, the turnover rate in our sector is very high, "said Bartlett.

"There are also complaints about the remuneration, tenure, mobility and portability of the tourism workers. All of that is simply because we have not been able to professionalize the industry in a way that other industries have been able to. Part of the problem is the lack of structured programs for training, certification, and classification. So, we have to change that paradigm, and that is how the JCTI was born, out of a need for us to create stackable credentials within the industry to enable mobility and portability, "he added.

In 2020, 153 students registered for this second cohort of the HTMP. These students are in the final year of the two-year programme and are currently preparing for their final examinations in June or July, 2022. Students are working in seven colleges and 13 high schools.

During the briefing, the Minister also announced that a new MOU has been established between the Ministries of Tourism, and Education to continue the collaboration to expand the programme. He also shared that a list of graduates, including their contact information and credentials, is being prepared by JCTI so that employers can easily find better-qualified workers.