Training, training and more training the way forward
At the risk of being accused of some amount of self-indulgence, we think it appropriate to commend Mr Adam Stewart and his Sandals Resorts International (SRI) team for their deep commitment to improving the resort chain's human capital.
Mr Stewart, the chief executive officer of Sandals Resorts and CEO of this newspaper, spoke of the hotel chain's belief in improving the skills of its staff at a Management Trainee Graduation Ceremony two Mondays ago in Westmoreland.
"When we started talking about what is most important...you got to recognise we were just coming off the crest of the recession, and companies were cutting back everywhere. But we made a fundamental decision at SRI that we could cut many, many things, but we would not cut training and development one iota," Mr Stewart said.
"The training and development of human capital is the best way to satisfy customers," he added.
Our report in last Thursday's Observer West on the ceremony held at Sandals Whitehouse European Village and Spa, explained that the Sandals Management Trainee Programme was re-launched in 2012 as an addition to the resort chain's ongoing thrust to invest in capacity building throughout its operations.
We were also informed that the two-year programme, which was originally introduced in the mid-1980s, represents an added feature of Sandals Resorts' ongoing investment in training that includes a Hospitality Training Programme which exposes unattached high school graduates to the operations of various departments in the resorts; as well as continuous on-the-job training sessions, scholarship opportunities, and workshops and seminars for team members through Sandals Corporate University.
We find great value in Mr Stewart's comments, not because of his relationship with this newspaper, but because they speak to the broader issue of the value of training to Jamaica's survival in an increasingly competitive world.
Highly skilled, well-trained individuals who display professionalism in their jobs will, in most instances, secure employment over people who lack those qualities.
That reality bears significant importance for Jamaica, which relies heavily on tourism for well-needed foreign exchange.
No one can doubt that the Jamaicans employed in this industry are, for the most part, well-trained and professional. After all, many of them are products of the HEART Trust/NTA, who receive additional training from their employers in the industry.
Confirmation of those facts can be seen in the cruise shipping industry, as well as the hotel sector in North America where many Jamaicans have found employment.
The key, therefore, to Jamaica maintaining and increasing its share of the global tourism market is to ensure that these training programmes are sustained and, importantly, introducing even more of those programmes.
The country has lots of bright young people who are eager to gain employment. Other skills training programmes, such as Red Stripe's Learning For Life, have shown us just that.
Jamaica can only benefit greatly from this kind of commitment to our youth.