The summer holiday will be extra special for some 800 students who will be taking part in the 2010 ‘Spruce Up Jamaica’ Summer Employment Programme, an initiative being undertaken by the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo).
For the next six weeks, these students from high schools and tertiary institutions across Jamaica will receive hands on experience in the tourism world of work, in the resort areas of Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, Kingston, Port Antonio and Negril.
Giving an overview of the initiative, Programme Co-ordinator, Marline Stephenson Dalley, notes that the overall objective is to increase the awareness of youngsters across Jamaica, in terms of the importance of the tourism industry, the role the industry plays, as well as expose them to the various careers that are available in the industry.
Prime Minister, Hon. Bruce Golding (left), listens to a comment from Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, during the launch of the ‘Spruce up Jamaica’ Summer Internship Programme at the Tourism Centre in Montego Bay on Friday, July 16. Some 800 students from high schools and tertiary institutions across Jamaica will be employed at tourism-related entities and businesses during the summer holidays.
The programme, which is being implemented for the third consecutive year, will see each student trained and placed in a service oriented or tourism related facility for three weeks, while receiving a weekly stipend of $5,000.
Mrs. Stephenson Dalley explains that the students must attend an orientation and training session conducted by the TPDCo and cover areas such as: tourism awareness, customer service, the marketing of Brand Jamaica, culture and the role of the local tourism organisations including Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), TPDCO, Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) and the Ministry of Tourism.
“Students also discuss and examine the benefits of tourism, the value chain in tourism and how it links with other areas of the economy,” she noted.
She said that it is important for the students to understand that tourists come from diverse places, with their own customs and cultures which we need to respect and appreciate just as how we are proud of ours.
A highlight of the training session is the use of performing arts to convey information and messages about the sector.
“We incorporate role play, we get them to exchange their ideas, they act out, they sing out, we do all kinds of exciting things to ensure that the messages are learnt and they get an understanding of the basic concepts,” she explains.
In terms of placements, she states that various sub-sectors in the tourism and hospitality industry are targeted, including the hotels, attractions, transportation, marketing and telemarketing.
She says that placements began on July 12, with the first set of interns who will be replaced by another set on completion.
“Many times they (the students) are rotated in the organisations so they get a feel of the different areas of the operation and we match them as best as we can, based on where they live and their skill,” she states.
Mrs. Stephenson Dalley points out that while many of the students participating are currently pursuing courses in hospitality and tourism, there are others who are studying the sciences, arts and business related courses.
The aim, she says is to expose them to the possible careers in the tourism sector.
“We have had cases where some interns have gone into organisations and have gotten permanent jobs from doing this summer programme.some have gone back to the organisation the following year, to work for the entire summer and others have changed their careers and decided on one in hospitality and tourism, ecotourism or even environmental management,” she highlights.
“I think it is important for everybody to see themselves as a stakeholder in tourism, many times persons outside of the resort areas do not understand or feel the benefits of the industry, and that is because they are not aware of the value chain, the linkages and the fact that when tourism is doing well, the hardware man, the dressmaker, the fisherman and hairdresser also do well,” she observes.
Approximately 2,400 students have completed the programme since its inception in 2008.