SLHTA reaf­firms com­mit­ment to Hu­man Re­source De­vel­op­ment: will award 350 hos­pi­tal­ity work­ers schol­ar­ships to on­line cour­ses

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

With over $420,000 com­mit­ted by the Tourism En­hance­ment Fund to Hu­man Re­source De­vel­op­ment (HRD), the SLHTA is making sig­nif­i­cant strides in tack­ling the un­em­ploy­ment cri­sis here in Saint Lucia. It is now com­monly ac­cepted that HRD and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment are in­ex­tri­ca­bly tied to­gether. Re­search has shown that coun­tries that en­cour­age the growth of crit­i­cal and multi-skilled in­di­vid­u­als in their labour force see an in­crease in eco­nomic growth. It is with this in mind that the SLHTA hosted a Hu­man Re­source fo­rum for HR pro­fes­sion­als in the tourism in­dus­try on Fri­day 11th De­cem­ber, 2015. The fo­rum is a yearly ex­er­cise held in or­der to reaquaint HR staff with lo­cal labour laws, en­cour­age di­a­logue with other HR pro­fes­sion­als and bring for­ward ques­tions and con­cerns that would help the As­so­ci­a­tion bet­ter serve them.

Of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est this year was the in­tro­duc­tion of 350 schol­ar­ships for e-based learn­ing through GAMA Learn­ing In­sti­tute. GAMA In­sti­tute, headed by Mr. Gil­bert Jn Fran­cois, of­fers ac­cred­ited on­line cour­ses in hun­dreds of ar­eas. GAMA has re­cently part­nered with the In­ter­na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Work­force De­vel­op­ment to uti­lize and fund some of the best e-learn­ing course­ware glob­ally. Mr. Jn Fran­cois stated that the in­sti­tute’s aim is to de­velop ca­pac­ity in work­force de­vel­op­ment through­out the OECS.

Re­cent sur­veys have shown a great dis­par­ity be­tween the qual­i­fi­ca­tion re­quire­ments for avail­able job open­ings and the cur­rent qual­i­fi­ca­tions of job seek­ers here in Saint Lucia. A 2012 Labour Mar­ket Needs Sur­vey showed that 44% of job open­ings in Saint Lucia re­quired ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion but only 7% of job seek­ers had ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion train­ing. Even more alarm­ingly, 60% of job seek­ers were said to have qual­i­fi­ca­tions be­low sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion.

Re­searchers have ob­served that there has been a change in the de­mand and sup­ply pat­tern of hu­man re­sources for the travel in­dus­try, with the de­mand in favour of more ed­u­cated and spe­cial­ized per­son­nel. The schol­ar­ships will ef­fec­tively ad­dress the needs of am­bi­tious, in­tel­li­gent in­dus­try work­ers who are well primed to be­come multi-skilled employees who will grow with their or­ga­ni­za­tion and meet the de­mands of a chang­ing tourism in­dus­try.

This ini­tia­tive is in­deed well timed as the lo­cal tourism in­dus­try was pre­dicted to en­counter com­mend­able growth in 2015. In 2014, travel and tourism di­rectly sup­ported 15,500 jobs (20.4% of to­tal em­ploy­ment). This was ex­pected to rise by 5.7% in 2015 and rise by 2.9% per an­num to 22,000 jobs (24.7% of to­tal em­ploy­ment) in 2025.

In his open­ing state­ment to the De­cem­ber 11th HR Fo­rum, SLHTA Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Noorani Azeez noted that “Hu­man Re­source De­vel­op­ment is glob­ally com­ing into fo­cus as be­ing crit­i­cal to pro­duc­tiv­ity, com­pet­i­tive­ness and in cre­at­ing pos­i­tive and em­pow­er­ing work cul­tures.”

In 2015, the As­so­ci­a­tion has com­mit­ted over $420,000 in Hu­man Re­source De­vel­op­ment pro­grammes in­clud­ing its suc­cess­ful Tourism In­tern­ship Pro­gramme. Th­ese e-learn­ing schol­ar­ships will of­fer stu­dents over 100 choices of cour­ses spe­cific to the skills nec­es­sary for the hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor and present employees with an op­por­tu­nity for pro­mo­tion and for re­as­sign­ment into a new ca­reer path.

$29,000 worth of GAMA course schol­ar­ships will go to employees of mem­ber or­ga­ni­za­tions who have con­trib­uted to the Tourism En­hance­ment Fund. Ad­di­tion­ally, non-con­tribut­ing mem­ber com­pa­nies of the SLHTA will re­ceive 100 of the 350 schol­ar­ships.

The As­so­ci­a­tion is there­fore com­mit­ted to help­ing this area climb the pri­or­ity agenda here in Saint Lucia and hopes to see a con­tin­ued re­fo­cus­ing of en­er­gies to­wards Hu­man Re­source De­vel­op­ment.

Par­tic­i­pants at a Hu­man Re­source fo­rum for HR pro­fes­sion­als in the tourism

in­dus­try which was hosted by the SLHTA on Fri­day 11th De­cem­ber, 2015.

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