The Ministries of Tourism and Education, Youth and Information signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) yesterday, to initiate the first Hospitality and Tourism Management Program for high school students to gain entry level qualification in tourism, starting this September.
To develop and initiate the Hospitality and Tourism Management Program, the Ministry of Tourism pledged one hundred million Jamaican Dollars ($100 M) in a collaborative effort with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, to prepare young people to enter tourism with an internationally recognized certification in tourism.
Speaking at the signing of the MOU at the Office of the Prime Minister, Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett said, “This signing represents a part of my Ministry’s overall effort to invest in human capital development to ensure we have a highly efficient and trained workforce in the sector. Sixty percent (60%), of the value of the visitors’ experience lies with service which means any destination that is serious about adding value and remaining competitive must build capacity to offer the level of service required.”
“The growth of the sector demands that we have trained and qualified workers and by 2021 we will need thousands of trained workers as 15,000 new rooms come on stream.
We are therefore training our workers to lift their level of expertise and service delivery to be on par with internationally recognized standards and starting in high schools is critical hence this collaborative step with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information,” added Minister Bartlett.
The Hospitality and Tourism Management Program will be for two years and offered to students in Grades 11, 12 and 13. Although the program will be delivered in high schools, students will be receiving college credits, because it will be delivered in concert with colleges participating in the Centre of Occupational Studies (COS) Program which facilitates technical training and certification at the college level.
Graduates of this program will have the following credentials: Associate Degree in Customer Service; AHLEI Certification; NVQJ Certification and Customer Service Industry Association recognition
In endorsing the initiative, Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Ruel Reid said, “It is very timely and consistent with our overall longitudinal view of the education and training sector which is to ensure the system impacts individuals from conception to age 18. The education and training system must respond to the growing demands of the economy, so we must ensure as a country we have high level skilled workers.”
Speaking specifically to the tourism sector, Minister Reid added that, “Tourism is a people driven industry which means it is imperative that we train the human capital to be able to manage the nuances of the sector and deliver the experiences.”
The Hospitality and Tourism Management Program forms part of the Ministry’s wider human capital development thrust, which includes the establishment of the Jamaica Centre of Tourism Innovation, which graduated over 150 hospitality workers in April this year; Team Jamaica educating and generally sensitizing tourism workers at the broad grass root level to what the industry is all about; HEART National Training Agency providing training in various areas of competence for entry level into the industry; and tertiary level institutions providing academic qualification in hospitality.