Bartlett highlights need for skilled workers
ST JAMES, Jamaica –The Ministry of Tourism has reaffirmed its commitment to training and certifying a competent workforce, to meet the impending influx of visitor arrivals in the coming years.
Portfolio Minister Edmund Bartlett stated that the industry will generate 45,000 new jobs in the next few years because of the construction of new hotels and the expansion of room stock, which will soon reach 20,000.
The minister noted that the Jamaica Centre for Tourism Innovation (JCTI), which is the ministry’s training arm, is seen as a critical step in preparing workers to meet the demands of the expanding industry.
“Next year we begin to open as of April, the first 1,000, then next 700, then we go to another 450 then… we have the Hard Rock Unico going on and I just finished negotiating for another 2,000 rooms right beside it. We talked about another 750 in Trelawny and we’re moving to that 20,000 rooms,” Bartlett said.
“But how many workers do we need? We are going to need 45,000 more workers to deal with that. Where are they coming from? They’re going to have to come from the bowels of our people, but they have to be trained,” he continued.
The minister was speaking at the inaugural JCTI Awards and Recognition Ceremony held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Rose Hall, St James, on December 13.
Barlett noted that these workers will need to be proficiently trained, and various institutions including the JCTI and the HEART Trust/NSTA, have been tasked with preparing the local workforce.
“The JCTI has its work all cut out for it and all the other institutions including HEART Trust/NSTA and everybody else. Let us prepare ourselves because the future beckons us, but it only beckons those who are prepared for it,” he stated.
In addition to the expanding room stock, the global tourism industry is gearing up for an influx of one billion more tourists over the next 10 to 15 years.
The minister said with this forecast in mind, the focus now turns to where these tourists will go and where they will originate from.
However, Bartlett expressed an unwavering commitment to ensuring that Jamaica is a preferred destination for the global travellers.
To achieve this goal, he emphasised the importance of a well-trained workforce capable of delivering the highest level of service.
The minister noted that quality service is highly valued by tourists and can contribute to higher earnings.
“The future of tourism for an economy is about qualified competent staff, because productivity is what drives economic growth and we can only be assured of productive capacity, if there is technical competence and the only way we know of technical competence is certification,” Bartlett stated.
Over 50 partners, stakeholders, and JCTI graduates were recognised at the ceremony.