Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says the Ministry will continue to invest in the human capital of the country by developing a number of initiatives through the Centre for Tourism and Innovation.
He points out that tourism authorities and stakeholders recognise that “purposeful action” is required to promote and market Jamaica as a leading global destination.
“Purposeful action will enable the development and security of the well-being and quality of life for the thousands of tourism workers. We now have to ensure that the tourism workers nationally are assured… as we seek to balance human development with economic development,” he said.
Mr. Bartlett was speaking at a conference, titled ‘Governance for Tomorrow: Innovation, Politics, Policy and Sustainable Development’, hosted by the University of the West Indies, in collaboration with the Office of the Prime Minister, at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James on July 27.
“We recognise the importance of purposeful action for establishing the infrastructure and regulatory environment in which businesses operate. This is why we have adopted, proactively, to position tourism to shape national policy. In other words, policies and strategies for tourism should be aligned to the broader social, economic, environmental and political imperatives of national development,” he argued.
Mr. Bartlett said the country now has an assessment institution that offers certification programmes in tourism and hospitality and provides specialist education geared at improving competitiveness and employment opportunities in the tourism sector in areas such as hospitality, tourism and culinary arts, and at the supervisory and management levels.
Mr. Bartlett said the institute that has been established “is a pathway institution to professionalism. It takes the graduates from the tertiary level who have theoretical groundings in hospitality and tourism but have no practical experience, and we certify them, so that they can move up into management positions in the industry”.
He further highlighted that for those individuals who are already working within the industry and are competent and experienced but not certified, they are given the opportunity to gain certification.
Additionally, the Minister said a partnership has been developed with the Ministry of Education to establish a high-school certification programme in hospitality, starting September 2018.
“Some 650 students from 33 high schools across Jamaica will commence a two-year programme in hospitality training at the high-school level, and that will give them an opportunity to move from high school with a certificate straight into the industry and not have to suffer the consequences of internship and what that brings,” he said.
The Minister said he is extremely proud to have launched the Tourism Workers Pension Scheme, which is being funded by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) at a cost of $1 billion in the initial stages.
“The growth that we seek is about people, the well-being of people and the transformation of people. It’s all about people,” Mr. Bartlett said.