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· Our offer of free online certification to our tourism workers through the Jamaica Centre of Tourism Innovation (JCTI) has had a resounding response. Thousands are taking advantage of this opportunity to upskill and advance their education.
· We are pleased to be able to provide this support to so many of our industry workers who have been impacted by the ongoing economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
· While the opening of our tourism sector is imminent, not so long ago the future of this primary economic earner looked very uncertain.
· With hotels and attractions shuttered and workers being sent home, we saw online learning as an opportunity for our tourism workers to hone their skills while at home while waiting for the re-opening of the sector.
· We must acknowledge the JCTI for underwriting the funding for these training courses at no cost to all of our tourism workers.
· Due to the overwhelming response the initial budget of $6.1 million was increased by $11.5 million.
· I also want to thank our local and international partners who have joined forces with us to offer this training, including:
§ HEART/National Service Training (HEART/NSTA) Trust
§ Universal Service Fund (USF)
§ National Restaurant Association (NRA) (United States)
§ American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) (United States)
· But most of all, I applaud you, our tourism workers, for your enthusiastic response to the programme. It shows that you are forward-thinking and re-skilling for the future.
· Over 4700 persons are enrolled or waitlisted in one or more of the eleven courses available.
· While all courses have had excellent take-up, Heart’s Hospitality Team Leader and the NRA’s ServSafe certifications are particularly in demand, with 1192 and 877 participants respectively. Actually, there have been 31 cohorts of the ServSafe course, each with 15-25 students thus far.
· These free online programmes continue until July 2020.
· The space for e-learning has grown rapidly over the past few years. It is estimated that the online education market will reach US$350 billion by 2025 globally due to the introduction of flexible learning technologies in the corporate and education sectors.
· COVID-19 has hastened this growth on a massive scale. Post-pandemic, online training will continue as the new normal. These drastic changes to education are here to stay. The positive feedback on our social media platforms and the long waitlists for these JCTI courses bear witness to this.
· I urge organizations to provide more opportunities for virtual training and e-learning, not only in tourism but in all sectors. The appetite is there for it so let us facilitate our workforce to build their skills and competencies. Your organization will benefit from this investment and so will Jamaica.
· As we continue our human capital development strategy in earnest, I am pleased to announce that the JCTI is collaborating with the Faculty of Law, UWI Western Jamaica Campus, to offer "Tourism and the Law".
· The four-week course gets underway next Tuesday (June 2) and covers basic legal principles that are relevant to the tourism industry.
· The following topics will be covered: Introduction to Criminal Law; Introduction to Contract Law; Introduction to the Law of Torts; and Sexual Harassment and the Law.
· The Faculty of Law is offering the course at a reduced total fee of $1 million for 60 persons, payable by the JCTI. The course is suitable for managerial or human resources positions in the tourism industry. At the end of the course, the participants will be given a certificate of participation and completion.
· Further developing the tourism and hospitality workforce to provide a more consistent level of experience to our visitors lies at the heart of our human capital development strategy.
· Our frontline workers are the most important element of a destination’s supply side. They have helped create a visitor experience in Jamaica that is second to none.
· They are going to be even more important in the new COVID-19 era when we are trying to create a safe, seamless and secure destination.
· A well-trained hospitality workforce will not only guarantee a high-quality tourism product but will also help us get back to our post-pandemic visitor arrival numbers.