Hilton executive calls for change in attitude towards human resources development


A senior official of one of the world’s leading hotel brands has warned that the Caribbean’s tourism sector will continue to face human resources challenges unless there’s a change in attitude toward human resources development.

Director of human resources at the Miami Regional Office of Hilton Hotels Corporation, Mirta Rivera-Rodriguez, said too often in the Caribbean, a lack of trained candidates forces employers to have to settle for workers who are not qualified for the job.

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“When we go outside, especially in the Caribbean to attract the candidate, we want to make sure that we attract the right candidate for the right position. But we end up – especially when we are short in the supply of human resources – getting the first person that shows up that maybe can make it happen for us, and we hire them, and that is the birth of a new problem for you as an employer because that person doesn’t have what it takes,” Ms. Rivera-Rodriguez told delegates attending the 5th Annual Caribbean Tourism Human Resources Conference here.

In a presentation on Making Tourism Jobs Aspirational and Challenging, the Hilton executive suggested that employers in the Caribbean tourism sector adopt the Hilton principle of “attract, motivate, and retrain” to help workers become productive, while the region seeks a long-term solution to the problem.

Otherwise, she said, the sector would continue to recycle staff who were not up to the task of providing quality and reliable service.

“We need a holistic approach to develop our human resources. But they must have something within themselves. They have to want to work. They need to feel they are productive,” the Hilton human resources director said. “Otherwise we will always be training them and preaching and coming back and forth and recycling. We terminate somebody here, and you hire them there.”

Ms. Rivera-Rodriguez suggested that the answer to the sector’s human resources problems lie in education, and she recommended that industry leaders work with educational institutions at various levels in an attempt to influence the educational process.

“If we start early in life with them, if we help them to develop self esteem, it doesn’t matter in what position they come to work with any employer, they will always be successful. We are talking about ethics, we are talking about working to have the education process embrace them, not only to add, subtract, and read but to be productive citizens,” Ms. Rivera-Rodriguez said.

The 5th Annual Caribbean Tourism Human Resources Conference, which has as its theme, Best Practices for Creating a Motivated and Productive Tourism Workforce, is organized by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) in collaboration with the Curacao Tourist Board.