As the Jamaica Ministry of Tourism seeks to raise the professional standard of workers in the tourism industry, nearly 150 candidates in the Jamaica Centre for Tourism Innovation (JCTI) pilot, will be sitting for exams next month.

JCTI, which was launched last year, has been conceptualized to provide a path to professionalism for workers in the tourism industry. It is a collaborative effort which includes the Ministries of Tourism, Education, Youth and Information and the Ministry of Labor and Social Security as well as their agencies. Also involved are the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute and the American Culinary Federation which are providing certification, and the local private sector through the Jamaica Hotel & Tourism Association (JHTA).

The institution offers access to certification programmes that support existing hospitality programmes at several tertiary institutions with individuals having access to certification in areas such as hospitality management, tourism management, culinary arts, spa management and others.

The JCTI pilot project began in December 2017 with targeted candidates including employed persons seeking accreditation as Certified Hospitality Supervisors; recent college graduates seeking accreditation as Certified Hospitality Supervisors; academic staff seeking credentials to deliver Certified Hospitality Information Analytics training; students seeking accreditation in Certified Hospitality Information Analytics; and American Culinary Federation (ACF) Executive Chefs seeking accreditation as ACF Certified Evaluators.

Associate of the Year 2017 at Melia Braco, Carlton Walters (second right) and his team members pose jubilantly with Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett (second left). Mr. Bartlett was a guest speaker at the hotel’s 2nd annual Star Awards presentation, Monday, February 19, 2018.

Giving an update on the program, as he addressed the Melia Braco Village Star Awards presentation on February 19, 2018, Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett said the candidates who sought Certified Hospitality Information Analytics certification completed their studies and examinations in November 2017.

Also, almost 110 candidates were preparing for the Certified Hospitality Supervisor examinations and over fifteen candidates will be seeking certification from the American Culinary Federation.

The Ministry of Tourism is also working with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information (MOEY&I) to provide certification to students in Grades 10, 11, 12 and 13 from the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) in their Hospitality and Tourism Management Program (HTMP). The pilot for this program will begin in the summer of 2018 with the training of facilitators and the rollout in schools scheduled to begin in the Christmas term.

Additionally, Mr. Bartlett said a strategy was being developed to deliver and certify Spanish language training that responds to local conditions.

Minister Bartlett said in the next three years the tourism industry will seek to employ 150,000 persons directly but over 350,000 overall when those indirectly involved are taken into consideration.

He said this raised the question of “How are we going to make them outstanding performers, producing at a high level of efficiency, enabling high productivity and great production” to give Jamaica the competitive edge that it needs at all times? It is against that background that “We are developing in the Ministry what we call a Human Capital Strategy, and in that context, we think that human capital and economic growth tend to grow hand in hand,” said Minister Bartlett.

Lauding the Melia Braco Village Star awardees and management for their outstanding achievements, Minister Bartlett stated that in the new innovation drive in the global economy, “organizations that treat their workers as just another commodity will find it increasingly difficult to sustain a competitive advantage.”

He said it was very important for everyone in tourism, from the most senior person to those who work at the most junior level, to understand that doing a great job added value to the product that visitors pay to enjoy.

While making their hotel an award-winning resort, he said their contribution had a part in last year’s history-making 4.3 million visitor arrivals for a record-breaking 12.1 percent increase over 2016 and some US$3 billion in foreign exchange earnings.