Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, is encouraging employers in the hospitality industry to participate in the proposed workers’ pension scheme, which is slated to come into effect next year.
“Cooperate with us, and work with the workers. We are incentivizing employers to ensure that they contribute their three percent now, and later on, five percent,” Mr. Bartlett said, while reiterating that the scheme will cover all workers, aged 18-59, upon retiring.
He was speaking at the third graduation ceremony for Jamaica Centre of Tourism Innovation (JCTI) trainees, which was held recently at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James.
The tourism workers’ pension scheme, which is the first of its kind, is a contributory arrangement that will embrace some 350,000 full-time, part-time, self-employed and contract workers across the sector. They include red cap porters, front desk managers, craft traders, and housekeepers.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bartlett hailed tourism workers as “the real heroes of the sector”, noting that “without our dedicated workers, the sector would not enjoy [the] unprecedented growth and success [now being experienced]”.
Against this background, he said building the workers’ capacity will further benefit the industry, and bolster their marketability.
“Your improved skill sets will assist our destination to meet the growing demands of the industry, including better service and innovation. So you see, the quality of our tourism product and the development of our tourism workers are inseparably linked,” the Minister pointed out.
Additionally, Mr. Bartlett said with training and certification, “you are able to demand more in terms of earnings and will be able to work anywhere in the world”.
For her part, Permanent Secretary in the Tourism Ministry, Jennifer Griffith, told graduates that the JCTI’s training programme reflects the Government’s “commitment to building out the capacity of the sector’s work force”.
She commended them for completing of their training, adding that they represent the next cadre of workers who, through innovation and creativity, will propel the sector to another level.
Mrs. Griffith reminded them, however, that “it is now that the real work begins… as you push yourselves with your newly acquired skill set to go beyond what is normal and usual, to meet the increasing demands of a very dynamic tourism sector”.
The Permanent Secretary also thanked stakeholders supporting the training programme’s delivery and encouraged them to continue working with the Ministry to further develop the sector.
Some 649 tourism workers participated in the latest round of training, of which 350 were present at the graduation to receive certificates.
The participants are now certified by the American Hotel and Lodging Institute and the American Culinary Foundation in various industry-related skills.
The JCTI was created to increase access to certification for tertiary-level graduates as well as workers in the hospitality industry, thereby boosting Jamaica’s tourism product.