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JIS News

Story Highlights

  • It began operations in 1986 with a batch of 80 trainees, as the Runaway Bay HEART Academy.
  • The training programmes at that time consisted of six months of theoretical training and six months of practical experience in a hotel environment.
  • The Runaway Bay HEART Hotel and Training Institute has made great strides over the years, growing from 20 to 56 rooms by 2000, while operating as a full service hotel.

It began operations in 1986 with a batch of 80 trainees, as the Runaway Bay HEART Academy, mainly aimed at satisfying the demand for skilled workers in the hospitality industry.

The training programmes at that time consisted of six months of theoretical training and six months of practical experience in a hotel environment, where trainees performed customer service-based duties.

In 1995 the Academy was renamed the Runaway Bay HEART Hotel and Training Institute, to reflect an expanded list of training opportunities offered at the institution.

The Runaway Bay HEART Hotel and Training Institute has made great strides over the years, growing from 20 to 56 rooms by 2000, while operating as a full service hotel.

With more than 1,000 persons accessing training annually at the institution at various levels, its evolution continues. With its charge to be more relevant and responsive to labour market needs specifically for the Hospitality sector, another name change has been officially to reflect the institution’s new direction.

As of Thursday February 20 the training institution has been renamed the HEART College of Hospitality Services (HCHS).

Director/Principal of the HCHS, and a former student, Dr. Janet Dyer tells JIS News that the new name marks a transformation for the institution.

“It’s the day when we no longer see ourselves as a training institute that offers entry level training alone, we are now encompassing higher levels with our entry level courses and basically responding to the needs of the workforce,” she states.

She emphasises that the level of training offered at the institution is of international standards.

The Principal points out that higher levels of training is being offered in areas where labour market surveys have shown that there is a great need for certified persons. These include food and beverage management, hotel and restaurant management, and hospitality.

“We are also continuing our Culinary Institute of America programmes, where we have our certified Culinarians, certified Chef de Cuisine, and our certified Executive Chef programmes,” she informs.

She outlines that the HCHS has entered into a partnership with secondary schools where the entry level programmes (levels one and two), will be offered in these institutions. Students will be able to matriculate into the HCHS for advanced levels of certification.

Ms. Dyer says the changes being adopted by the institution is its response to the Vision 2030 National Development Plan, to assist in training and certifying the Jamaican workforce to international standards.

Speaking at the renaming ceremony, Ministry of Education Region 3 Director, Maxine Headlam, said the move is overdue and well deserved.

“Since its inception in 1986 the institution has established a reputation of providing well-trained and competent personnel in a range of occupation in the hospitality industry.  Graduates have made their mark locally and internationally in their professional conduct and in the process have won recognition for the institution,” she says.

The HCHS has networked and engaged in knowledge exchange activities with international training institutions such as Seneca College, Ontario; Humber College, Ontario; College of DuPage, Illinois; Morris Brown College, Atlanta; and Hocking Technical College, Ohio.

It has also engaged renowned local hotels such as Breezes Runaway Bay, Breezes Rio Bueno, Half Moon, Boscobel Beach, Couples Resort, Couples San Souci, and Sandals Ocho Rios.

Ms. Headlam notes that the international networking that the HCHS has embarked on has led to a cross fertilisation of knowledge and ideas that is necessary for an educational institution that is serious about remaining relevant in programme offerings.