AS the region’s bread and butter industry rebounds from the strangling effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic, destinations are being urged to prepare for the expected growth in job opportunities.
Following the loss of a number of its staff to other industries during the outbreak of the pandemic when the sector suffered a partial lockdown, the positive signs of recovery now seen indicate that adequate staff levels will be needed to service robust demand.
Referring to a recent prediction from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), which anticipates a massive increase in global international inbound travel, Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) President Nicola Madden-Greig has called on the Caribbean’s tourism sector to do more to source and train its own people to meet the growing labour needs. She urged the national hotel and tourism associations to continue partnering with local institutions to fast-track the training of prospective hospitality workers so they can take advantage of the increasing number of career paths offered by the industry.
“It is imperative for our members to be diligent in staffing their properties and enterprises with trained, qualified hospitality professionals,” she stated.
The WTTC, in its last tourism Economic Impact Report, said that more than 126 million travel and tourism jobs will be created over the next decade, indicating also that since one in every three new jobs created were within the travel and tourism space, opportunities will abound for job seekers and businesses seeking to fill those positions.
President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourism Association (JHTA) Clifton Reader said that locally steps are being taken to replenish the sector’s labour force which also dwindled with the pandemic. He said that having also lost a number of its more experienced staff to North America and other sectors, particularly from the areas of housekeeping, culinary and clerical, significant steps are now being taken to employ more of these workers.
“The Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) and the HEART Trust since the pandemic have been training individuals to sharpen skills and bring new ones to the industry. We have also made connections in schools especially those doing tourism courses to foster partnerships with them. Despite the shortcomings, it can be a win-win situation for us as we do have a lot of people who are unemployed, but just needs to be trained,” he told the Caribbean Business Report.
“JHTA is now working with TEF to set up a platform with all the jobs we have available, from which HEART and other institutions can offer all the trained people they have so that we can match supply with the demand in a better way,” he added, noting also a recommendation for more training opportunities to be rolled-out for people in the south of the island in parishes such as St Thomas and Clarendon which he said may have vast amounts of untrained labourers that could also benefit from the available opportunities.
Acknowledging the challenges with labour supply in the region, Madden-Greig highlighted a Caribbean job bank available to the destinations which she believes could also be useful in bridging the gaps between supply and demand.
“Our tourism job bank is an excellent, free resource for both employers and job seekers, we encourage Caribbean residents in search of tourism-related positions to upload their resumes and credentials to the site where they can be reviewed by prospective employers looking for qualified applicants,” she stated, while calling for more to be done to counter misinformation which she said has “created doubts about the stability and future of the industry since the pandemic”.
“The Caribbean tourism industry presents a world of possibilities for professional growth and development. There are more than 1,000 jobs and career paths with over one in five opportunities at the supervisory, management, or ownership levels,” the CHTA head said.