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The first ever Career Expo for tourism students across Jamaica was held today at the Jamaica Centre of Tourism Innovation (JCTI).
Jamaica Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, delivered remarks to the students at this momentous JCTI event in Montego Bay and are shared here:
Career Expo 2023 is a significant event on the calendar of the Jamaica Centre of Tourism Innovation, JCTI. The staging of this first career expo is a major departure from the usual role of the JCTI.
The JCTI was founded in 2017 to certify workers, students in high schools and colleges, and tutors to deliver the requisite courses. So why a career expo?
Well, for the most part, Tourism is the means by which Jamaica, and indeed, the Caribbean, earns its living. Tourism is the major driver of the Jamaican economy. Tourism is also one of the most resilient industries on Earth, as evidenced by the amazingly fast recovery from the Coronavirus Pandemic.  Furthermore, tourism has recovered nearly all of the jobs lost during the pandemic’s peak.
If tourism is to prosper and if the people of Jamaica are to truly benefit from this important industry, then our young people must understand more about the needs of the tourism sector, the opportunities that are on offer, and how they can prepare themselves to take advantage of these opportunities.
So, the JCTI, though focused on providing internationally bench marked certification in hospitality, tourism, and culinary arts for workers as well as high school and college students, must also provide these young people with information about other opportunities in tourism. This is part of the JCTI’s public education program. Therefore, the Career Expo will:
To ensure the success of tourism, Jamaican youth must prepare themselves by obtaining the necessary education and training to take advantage of these job opportunities.
Tourism is the convergence of several moving parts. Tourism requires what any society needs to operate successfully. To name a few, tourism needs marketing professionals, accountants, ICT technicians, engineers, architects, lawyers, doctors, chefs, and vets.
Please take me seriously, young people. You need to prepare yourselves to help build a brighter future for yourself, for Jamaica, and specifically for Jamaica’s thriving tourism sector.
I want to assure you that the JCTI is here to help you prepare by offering you internationally bench marked certification. The JCTI collaborates closely with the HEART NSTA Trust as well as well-known international partners, the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) and the American Culinary Federation (ACF), to provide you with these certification courses at NO COST.
However, beyond free certification in hospitality, tourism, and culinary arts, we want to encourage you to look at our entire industry and take the steps that prepare and enable you to explore and pursue meaningful careers in tourism.
Today’s Career Expo brings to you some of the many possibilities available in the tourism sector, which span a wide variety of industries that they perhaps did not immediately connect to, such as business, law, medicine, and architecture, to name a few.
You will understand more as you interact with the 20 companies that have partnered with the JCTI to stage this career expo. Among them are names that you will readily recognize as leaders in the tourism sector.
Today you will meet: J. Wray & Nephew showcasing bar services; The Montego Bay Convention Centre showcasing food services; Sandals Resorts International highlighting a variety of careers in hotel operations; Chukka, representing the attractions sub-sector; and Hospiten, which will highlight the importance of medical services in tourism. Dolphin Cove, which will showcase the vital role veterinarians and animal trainers play in their organization. Also on display will be Digicel, MBJ Airports, Pure Chocolate, Jamaica Tours, PWC, as well as farmers, architects, and lawyers.
In each booth, you will meet staff members of these companies, who will talk with you about the types of jobs available and the requirements to qualify. This is going to be very important, especially for young job seekers looking to “get a foot in the door,” so to speak. We understand that some representatives will collect resumes, while others will discuss opportunities to intern at their companies.
Young people, I want you to know that opportunities abound in tourism, one of the largest industries on Earth.
And according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, this industry, more than any other, has the potential to be a major player in reducing poverty and, by extension, reducing hunger and improving the health of populations.
In Jamaica, we are poised to add some 8,500 new rooms and need mechanics, chefs, landscapers, farmers, transportation operators, doctors, marketing executives, data analysts, event planners, and IT professionals. Which of these jobs appeals to you? Where do you think you could have the greatest impact? Where do you think you could earn the most money?
This business, which has proven to be the fastest to recover after the devastation caused by the pandemic, is one of the largest employers, embracing a range of professions, and has the opportunity to transform our country.
This Career EXPO is therefore intended to expand the public’s understanding of what is a “tourism” job, to introduce high school and college students in particular to the traditional and non-traditional opportunities available through tourism, to expose tourism employers and professionals to high school and college students – Jamaica’s future workforce. Finally, it will provide guidance counsellors and recruitment professionals with information about available tourism jobs to which they can refer graduating students and recent graduates who show an interest in the industry.
Through the Career EXPO, we hope that you will also develop a better understanding of the tourism industry and the necessary skills that are required to pursue a career in it once you have the right qualifications, commitment, and attitude.
Additionally, it will be a great opportunity for you to network with potential employers and other professionals, as well as gain access to resources that can help you in your career development.
Ladies and gentlemen, young people, we hope that this event will clarify and dispel the myth that tourism is an exploitative industry for underpaid waiters and housekeepers who can’t do better because of their low educational standards. Far from it. This is not so, as you will learn from this groundbreaking JCTI Career Expo.
The growth of tourism over the years has meant that more and more professionals are attracted to the sector because they see the job opportunities and understand that many of these careers command high salaries. So, we are encouraging all of you to ensure that you get the requisite skills so you can compete. That’s why we work to certify tourism workers. When our people have the skills and certification, then they cannot be denied. The decisions of employers will be informed; they must be informed by equity and merit.
Additionally, the JCTI is working closely with the Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Association, JHTA, to identify sector directors and managers who will teach courses or lead workshops in local universities offering courses in hospitality, tourism, and culinary arts. This will provide the managers in the sector with the best and brightest candidates preparing to enter the sector, making the transition from school to work that much more seamless.
As I close, I must emphasize that the JCTI is fully aware of the growing demands of the tourism sector both locally and regionally, and with the push being made for multi-destination tourism in the region, the JCTI is seeking to have a regional reach by being accessible to our Caribbean sister islands. The JCTI is preparing to roll out many of the certification courses on offer to people in the region. Yes, we want all our people to be prepared to deliver the quality for which Brand Jamaica is famous.
So, to the many participants, I know that your eyes will be opened to a world of opportunities, and you will be leaving this Career EXPO far more informed and inspired than you had anticipated.
Linda Hohnholz has been writing and editing articles since the start of her working career. She has applied this innate passion to such places as Hawaii Pacific University, Chaminade University, the Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center, and now TravelNewsGroup.
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