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 St 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 labor force see an increase in economic prosperity. 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 reacquaint HR staff with local labor laws , to encourage dialogue with other HR professionals and to bring forward questions and concerns that would help the Association better serve them.
Of particular interest this year is the introduction of 350 scholarships for e-based learning through GAMA Learning Institute.
Recent surveys have shown a great disparity between the qualification requirements for available job openings and the current qualifications of job seekers here in St Lucia. A 2012 Labor Market Needs Survey showed that 44% of job openings required tertiary education but only 7% of Job Seekers had tertiary education training. Even more alarming 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 favor of more educated and specialized personnel. These scholarships will effectively address the needs of ambitious, intelligent industry workers who are will be 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 tourism industry was predicted to encounter commendable growth in 2015. In 2014 Travel & 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% pa 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 committed over $420,000 in Human Resource Development programs including its successful Tourism Internship Program. These e-learning scholarships will offer students over a 100 choices of courses directed at skills necessary for the hospitality sector and present employees with an opportunity for promotion and for reassignment into a new and exciting career path.
The $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 St Lucia and hopes to see a continued refocusing of energies towards Human Resource Development.