10,000 tourism workers certified during pandemic — BartlettSunday, November 22, 2020
BY ONOME SIDO
MONTEGO BAY, St James — Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett is pleased that approximately 10,000 tourism workers are now certified through the free online programmes launched earlier in April.
The online programmes which were spearheaded by the Jamaica Centre of Tourism offered several tourism-related courses, and were geared towards hospitality workers who were laid off or furloughed as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking at the Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism and Creative Studies seminar hosted by the final-year hospitality students of the Montego Bay Community College recently, Bartlett stated that “human capital development strategy is a very important element to develop tourism”, and there is no better way to learn than through the exchange of ideas and the deepening of discourse, which is particularly important now as Jamaica seeks a sustainable reset of tourism amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“This was done as a direct response to the pandemic and will contribute to the human capital development strategy for the sector. We used the opportunity to sharpen their skills and to give them certifications in critical areas. It was a smart initiative in staying resilient and will pay handsome dividends when the sector returns to normal. The purpose of upscaling the skill set and certifying the level of skill that you have is to make you able to achieve mobility in the workplace and portability in the industry. This means that you can now move from country to country with the appropriate qualifications,” stated the minister.
Minister Bartlett also revealed that the labour market arrangement for tourism is informal and this will allow 'casual' workers to become regularised and remunerated accordingly.
“The labour market arrangements for tourism today is still very informal and tourism workers, by and large, are classified as 'casual'. What this is doing is creating stackable credentials for them so that they can now be classified; and if you are certified and classified, then you can be remunerated according to classification and that will change the labour market arrangement in tourism today, it is very important. The only way we can abolish the contract work is to train and certify all the workers of the industry,” argued Bartlett.
Based on the recent downturn in tourism due to the pandemic, Bartlett reiterated the need for sustainable tourism development through well-thinking strategies.
“Jamaica's tourism industry is at a critical junction and the steady hand of Government leadership will largely determine whether it thrives or falters. The truth is we cannot afford for tourism to fail and with good reason. The Jamaican economy relies heavily on tourism. It is our bread and butter. The tourism industry has been a strong pillar of economic growth and development in Jamaica; mainly because of the valuable investment it brings to our shores and economic linkages and diversification the sector promotes within the broader community. The pandemic has thrown these targets off track now. Even though we have surpassed a number of them, it has forced us to rethink our growth strategy and this may be a good thing, as it allows us to reposition the tourism sector for significant growth,” he expressed.