JIS News

‘Together Everyone Achieves More’, is the mantra that characterises Team Jamaica, a mandatory training and certification programme conducted by the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) for persons employed or associated with the hospitality and tourism sector.
The programme was developed in 1997 by an Advisory Council comprising both private and public sector tourism organizations including: The Ministry of Industry and Tourism, TPDCo, the Jamaica Tourist Board, the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, the HEART Trust/NTA and the Chambers of Commerce.
To date, TPDCo has trained 16,400 persons under the programme, ranging from hotel executives, waiters, and front office attendants to security personnel.
Speaking with JIS News, Executive Training Manager at TPDCo, Hugh Shim explains that the Company introduced the programme on a directive from the Ministry of Industry and Tourism, that all 70,000 workers in the tourism sector must be exposed to training and certification.
“It is our strong belief that the tourism product must first be experienced, sampled and accepted by our people, as it enhances their ability to market the services and facilities with pride to our visitors,” Mr. Shim points out.
He adds that the main purpose of the programme therefore, is to “create a quality tourism team aimed at building team spirit, pride in self and country, and to certify participants as trained tourism personnel”.
He notes that the Team Jamaica certification is a requirement for obtaining a Jamaica Tourist Board licence and work permits for the tourism sector.
In terms of the duration of the programme, Mr. Shim explains that Team Jamaica runs for two weeks at a cost of $3,500.00 and facilitates 12 to 25 participants at each session. He notes that different regions are targeted each month but the programme may run for a longer period in areas that are heavily populated with tourists. These areas include Negril, Ocho Rios, and Montego Bay.
The training modules cover tourism awareness, customer service, self-development, Jamaican history, geography, attractions, culture (cuisine and music), environmental awareness, a challenge quiz and an oral presentation.
One key beneficiary of the programme is taxi operator, Laurence McGregor who describes the programme as “interesting and a learning process”.
“The course has helped me to communicate better with the visitors and highlight Jamaica in a positive way and since tourism is a competitive business, I am now able to stay ahead of the game and equipped for the visitors. I can also pass on what I have learnt to fellow drivers,” Mr. McGregor points out.
In addition to workers within the tourism sector, Mr. Shim notes that the training programme has to be pursued by “all hospitality students from the University of Technology, the community colleges and HEART”.
Annually, approximately 1,600 persons are trained directly by TPDCo while the HEART Trust NTA trains an additional 3,200 persons based on a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two agencies in April 2004.
Mr. Shim states that the collaboration with HEART has continued over the years with the most recent thrust being the launch of the Team Jamaica Self-Teaching CD-Rom. The level 1 CD-ROM is designed for use as an instrumental tool and self-teaching courseware, and it is anticipated that its introduction will increase training in the tourism sector by 30 per cent.
According to Mr. Shim, the self-teaching CD-ROM “gives more flexibility to the delivery and learning of the programme” and is suitable for persons with “heavy schedules, complicated working hours”, and who would not be able to attend the regular classroom sessions.
The Team Jamaica training and certification programme has five levels: level one is for team members, while level two is for supervisors, level three for line managers, level four for general managers, and level five for instructors of the programme.
For further information on the Team Jamaica programme, persons may contact TPDCo at (876) 968-3441/3626 or visit the website at www.tpdco.org.