Jamaica News: Senior Director of Technical Services in the Ministry of Tourism, David Dobson, says tourism is a major source of employment and a powerful driver of economic and social development.
Addressing a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’, he pointed out that tourism drives nine per cent of Jamaica’s gross domestic product (GDP) and contributes in revenue terms, some 20 per cent of GDP.
The sector earnings have grown from US$369 million in 2017 to US$431 million in 2018, and directly employs some 127,000 persons or 10 per cent of the labour force.
Mr. Dobson said the continued growth of the tourism sector in Jamaica will depend on “the right people with the right skills being available to meet the new human capital demands of the sector.”
As a result, he noted that the Ministry has implemented initiatives, such as the Jamaica Centre of Tourism Innovation (JCTI), as a pathway to increase the cadre of well trained, quality workers to support the sector.
“We recognise that training is really specific for the various jobs in the tourism sector and although all our tertiary institutions in Jamaica have been offering tourism programmes, we believe that after persons have graduated from these institutions, there is still a little more honing of their talents that is required, hence the need for the JCTI,” he said.
Mr. Dobson added that since April 2018, some 1,893 persons have been certified through the JCTI, with another 514 persons still in training.
Established in 2017 as a pathway to professional certification in the sector, the JCTI offers a practical curriculum that complements existing hospitality programmes at several tertiary institutions and targets aspiring supervisors, managers and other hospitality professionals in areas such as culinary, spa and hospitality management.
The JCTI is on target to train 8,000 tourism workers over the next five years.
On the matter of increased room stock, the Senior Director noted that the JCTI initiative is set to satisfy this demand by preparing employees for placements at these various hotels and attractions.
He also cited the establishment of the Tourism Workers’ Pension Scheme as another critical thrust to ensure a better future for workers in the sector.
The pension scheme, which will require mandatory contributions, covers all workers in the tourism sector, from 18 to 59 years, whether permanent, contractual or self-employed.
In the meantime, Mr. Dobson pointed out that the Ministry, through its observance of Tourism Awareness Week 2019, will highlight its human capital development strategy and the number of traditional and non-traditional jobs available in the sector.
The week will be observed from September 22 to 28 under the theme: ‘Tourism and Jobs: a better future for all’.
Source: JIS News