Beginning October 1, workers in the tourism sector will be able to register for the Tourism Workers’ Pension Scheme.
This was noted by Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, at the recent Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) online 59th annual general meeting.
“I am pleased to share that the Fund has already earned $5.1 million in profit and as of the October 1, we will start admitting persons,” he said.
The Tourism Workers’ Pension Scheme is in keeping with the Government’s focus on creating a social security network within the sector.
It is one component of a three-pronged human capital development plan for industry workers, which includes training and capacity building.
The Scheme is a defined contributory plan supported by legislation and will require mandatory contributions by workers and employers.
It will cover all workers in the tourism sector aged 18 to 59, whether permanent, contractual or self-employed.
These include hotel workers as well as persons employed in related industries, such as craft vendors, tour operators, red cap porters, contract carriage operators and workers at attractions.
Benefits will be payable at age 65 years or older to persons who have met the vested period of five years.
In the meantime, Mr. Bartlett noted that the Government has been able to provide support to tourism workers as well as to tourism enterprises during the COVID-19 pandemic, through the provision of grant assistance, cash transfers, tax waivers, soft loans and moratorium on JTB licences.
He added, too, that workers are being prepared for reintegration into the post-COVID tourism sector, through the provision of 12 free online courses as part of the Government’s thrust to ensure the continued development of employees in the sector.
The courses were offered by the Jamaica Centre for Tourism Innovation (JCTI) as part of the Government’s thrust to provide tourism workers with an opportunity to upskill themselves and become more agile and adaptable post COVID-19.
Areas of training included laundry attendant, gift room attendant, kitchen steward/porter, public area sanitation, hospitality team leader, certified banquet server, certified restaurant server, ServSafe training in food safety, certified hospitality supervisor, tourism and law, introduction to Spanish, and disc jock (DJ) certification.
A total of 5,000 tourism workers completed the training in a number of key skill areas.
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 coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.