Duncan urges private sector to train workers
MONTEGO BAY, St James — Keith Duncan, CEO of JMMB Group and co-chair of Project STAR, has expressed concern that with more than 60 per cent of the workforce without certification, a lot of training will be required.
“When we talk about upskilling we have work to do. We have training agencies like HEART, but [it is] 62 per cent of our workforce that have no skills or certification. As a country we have work to do,” he said.
However, he argued that the onus should not be on HEART alone.
“[It] is the responsibility of the private sector to train their own people,” said the former president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica.
“We know the average training expenditure for Jamaican businesses is half of what it is in Caribbean and Latin America. That’s a World Bank study! So, we in the private sector need to spend more money on training our people. We need to spend that money on training our people so that we don’t get left behind, or your businesses don’t get left behind,” he added.
Duncan was speaking at the Jamaica Tourist Board’s (JTB’s) Employee Appreciation Gala, Wednesday night, during which staff who provided service of 10 years or more were lauded. He also underlined the need for training institutes to tailor their curricula to provide the required digital and other skills needed to keep the country competitive.
“Our training institutions also need to catch up and they need to look at their curriculums. We note that the prime minister and the minister of education want to roll out STEM schools. That’s wonderful. But our existing tertiary institutions — UWI, UTech and vocational, HEART and others — need to ensure that we are focusing on the skill sets that will keep Jamaica relevant, focusing on digital literacy so that we can become more mature as a country,” he argued.
“But it starts with us right here. We have to be the change agents. The JTB has been change agents and driving tourism and the growth of the tourism product in Jamaica for years. You have to be change agents. JTB needs to look within themselves…. We need to look within because we need to equip ourselves and give ourselves the skill sets, the tools to be able to be an example so that we don’t get left behind in this travel industry. So we must be the agents of change. And we must live the change,” he added.
Duncan charged tourism stakeholders to keep apace with digital transformation if they want to remain relevant, as the way in which visitors conduct business is rapidly changing.
Duncan also pointed out that more and more tourists are looking forward to receiving service digitally.
“Guests now expect a higher level of digital maturity from their service providers, data-driven digital tools to deliver innovative and personalised experiences. With the development of technologies such as AI, virtual reality, VR, Internet of Things, Big Data, or Block Chain, the development of new digitised solutions and product has the momentum. The tourism industry is no different,” he said.
He underscored that training of the tourism workforce in digital competencies is of utmost importance if the country is to maintain the growth it has enjoyed over the years.
“We have to upskill ourselves. We have to upskill our workforce if we are going to remain relevant and stay on the cutting edge to be able to maintain the growth levels and productivity levels that we have been able to deliver for years as a Jamaica destination, through the Jamaica Tourist Board,” Duncan said.