The growth of tourism over the years has meant that more highly qualified professionals are being drawn to the sector, says Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett.
“They see the job opportunities and understand that many of these careers command high salaries,” the Minister told JIS News in an interview.
Mr. Bartlett argued that the notion that tourism is an exploitative industry for underpaid and uneducated workers is nothing short of a myth.
In the interview following the recent Jamaica Centre of Tourism Innovation (JCTI) Career EXPO in Montego Bay, St. James, the Minister said he hopes events such as Career EXPO will help clarify and dispel the myth.
Mr. Bartlett said it is against this background that the Ministry of Tourism has been reaching out to young people, encouraging them to get the requisite skills where they can effectively compete in an increasingly competitive industry.
“That’s why we work to certify tourism workers. When our people have the skills and certification, then they cannot be denied. The decisions of employers will be informed; they must be informed by equity and merit,” the Minister emphasised.
He said that the JCTI is also working closely with the Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Association (JHTA) to identify sector directors and managers who will teach courses or lead workshops in local universities, offering courses in hospitality, tourism and culinary arts.
This, the Minister added, will provide managers and supervisors with the best and brightest candidates preparing to enter the sector, making the transition from school to work that much more seamless.
“The JCTI is fully aware of the growing demands of the tourism sector, both locally and regionally, and the push being made for multi-destination tourism in the region,” the Minister said.
Mr. Bartlett pointed out that the JCTI is seeking to have a regional reach by being accessible to Caribbean sister islands.
“The JCTI is preparing to roll out many of the certification courses on offer to people in the region. Yes, we want all our people to be prepared to deliver the quality for which Brand Jamaica is famous. So, to the many participants, I know your eyes will be opened to a world of opportunities, and you would have left the Career EXPO far more informed and inspired than you had anticipated,” he said.
Mr. Bartlett said the tourism industry has once again proven its resilience by being the fastest to recover after the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and remains one of the largest employers, embracing a range of professions, and can transform Jamaica.
He noted that the many community and educational programmes, such as Career EXPO, are intended to expand the public’s understanding of what a “tourism” job is and to introduce high school and college students to the traditional and non-traditional opportunities available throughout the sector.
“The aim is also to expose tourism employers and professionals to high-school and college students – Jamaica’s future workforce. It will also provide guidance counsellors and recruitment professionals with information about available tourism jobs to which they can refer graduating students and recent graduates who show an interest in the industry,” the Minister added.