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