- Tourism workers who have benefitted from the free online courses offered by the Jamaica Centre of Tourism Innovation (JCTI), are issuing high praises.
- The free online training initiative was launched on April 22 as part of the Government’s thrust to ensure the continued development of employees in the sector, who were laid off as a result of the closure of hotels during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The participants say the initiative came at a time when there were several uncertainties surrounding the pandemic.
Tourism workers who have benefitted from the free online courses offered by the Jamaica Centre of Tourism Innovation (JCTI), are issuing high praises.
The free online training initiative was launched on April 22 as part of the Government’s thrust to ensure the continued development of employees in the sector, who were laid off as a result of the closure of hotels during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The participants say the initiative came at a time when there were several uncertainties surrounding the pandemic.
Sales Manager at Breathless Resort and Spa in Montego Bay, Dervan Shaw, one of the 5,000 tourism workers who completed a training course, tells JIS News that he was happy to be among the persons who benefitted.
“For me, I am always working. Now I have less work and this course came and gave me an opportunity to learn something new, something I could take back into the working world,” Mr. Shaw states.
The Sales Manager received his certificate of completion in the tourism and law course, which was established in collaboration with the University of the West Indies (UWI). It featured topics such as Introduction to Criminal Law, Introduction to Contract Law, Law of Torts and Sexual Harassment.
Mr. Shaw initially wanted to participate in the hospitality team leader course, which was one of 11 courses first announced by the Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett. However, he was unable to do so due to issues with his registration.
Therefore, as soon as he learnt that a new course was being offered that was of interest to him, he registered again and was successful.
Mr. Shaw says that the knowledge gained from the course has proven to be “very applicable” to his day to day life and the current landscape, as it relates to COVID-19 and the rights of the worker.
Other areas of training offered included: laundry attendant, gift room attendant, kitchen steward/porter, public area sanitation, certified banquet server, certified restaurant server, Servsafe training in food safety, certified hospitality supervisor, introduction to Spanish, and disc jock (DJ) certification.
Another participant, Jody Jeremiah, who had been working at the Golf View Hotel for 18 years before being laid off due to the pandemic, tells JIS News that she found out about the initiative via social media and chose to register for the certified hospitality supervisor course.
For her, doing a course online was a new experience but one she was willing to try.
“I’ve never done a course online. It was on Zoom and I was wondering how it was going to work. But, to my surprise, it went very well. It was actually like sitting in a classroom. You could see everybody. It was very interactive and informative,” she points out.
Mrs Jeremiah describes her course facilitator as being “phenomenal,” noting that the facilitator had industry experience and used it to deliver the course content in a way that participants could understand.
“When I finished the course, I was very excited. I was full of bubble because I wanted to go back into the industry to put into practice what I had learnt,” Mrs. Jeremiah states.
However, with many hotels still being closed or keeping on a limited number of staff, she will have to wait a little longer to utilise her skills.
Despite the setback, she remains hopeful as she believes the resilient nature of the industry will allow for it to bounce back faster than others.
Patrick Ferron, another industry worker, who lost his job because of the effects of the pandemic, believes that the online courses allowed persons to “gain additional skills” which will prove useful post COVID-19
Mr. Ferron was employed as an environment and conservation assistant at the Tryall Club in Hanover. He completed and received certificates for two courses –Servsafe training in food safety and certified restaurant server.
Meanwhile, Executive Director of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), Dr. Carey Wallace, in his remarks at the virtual graduation ceremony held on August 12, described the participants as “super heroes”.
“This has been a difficult time for us all, but you – our tourism workers – have faced some additional challenges being out of work due to COVID-19. Despite the daunting challenges and uncertainty, you made it your priority to better yourselves and upgrade yourselves through the JCTI’s online initiative,” Dr. Wallace says.
He explained that the core mandate of the JCTI, a division of the Tourism Enhancement Fund is to train and certify as many workers as possible and develop the country’s human capital.
“I am proud of you all. Take this moment to ‘pat’ your selves on the back and be counted as role models to our aspiring tourism workers. As you celebrate this milestone, I urge you to not stop here, but to keep on improving and developing so that you can be the best version of yourselves and strive for more greatness,” he adds.
Local and international partners in the programme included: TEF; Human Employment and Resource Training/National Service Training Agency Trust (HEART/NSTA Trust); Universal Service Fund (USF); the UWI; National Restaurant Association (NRA); and the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI).