With an annual target of 2000 young people the SLHTA Apprenticeship Programme is picking up Steam.
The initiative, which comes in partnership with the Government of Saint Lucia, has so far trained over 200 people and targets unemployed youth from across the country and exposes them to the hospitality sector. The youth are given the opportunity to explore and receive invaluable training in the many professional avenues available in the tourism industry.
Chefs, Services Attendants, Engineering and Finance and even Food and Beverage are among the key areas being taught. Funding for the program comes from the highly successful Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), which is now in its second year.
Executive Vice President of the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourist Association Noorani Azeez said the TEF is certainly beginning to have a considerable impact on the human resource development of Saint Lucia.
“I’m really glad to see that the tourism enhancement fund only in its second year is beginning to have such an impact. A number of our young people are still very unaware of the myriad of opportunity that exists in the tourism sector,” Azeez said.
He pointed out that the Tourism Internship Program not only provides valuable first hand experience for young people into the inner workings of the tourism sector, but it also creates for a greater appreciation on the part of the youth for the country’s largest economic driver.
“What this program does is give them valuable first hand experience about our leading economic sector. The hotel sector is in dire need of a number of skills that the country does not have, and if we can address this skills shortage problem then we can help to alleviate the frightening unemployment rate.
“We have much to celebrate and hope for from the future of the Tourism Internship Program,” Azeez said.
He added that the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourist Association was also pleased to have the support of the Government of Saint Lucia, which has clearly embraced the need for training and providing opportunities for young people in the industry.
“The SLHTA is pleased that the government of Saint Lucia strongly appreciates the need for training our young people to optimize the opportunities in the tourism sector. It is through pubic and private sector partnerships that we will solve the many challenges confronting us as a country today,” said the SLHTA Executive Vice President.
A number of large, medium and small hotels from across Saint Lucia – in addition to the SLHTA allied members, have partnered with the SLHTA and the Government of Saint Lucia on this life-altering initiative.
The TIP follows a series of Tourism Enhancement Fund backed projects that include afterschool programs, the reconstruction of a culinary arts room, the beautification of Rodney bay and other initiatives.
With such a prolific start, the Fund’s impact on the Human Resource of Saint Lucia can only make a big dent into the apparent disconnect between tourism skills and jobs.