More than just hotels

Career & Education

More than just hotels

Bartlett explains placement strategy of TEF internships

Career & Education writer

Sunday, August 18, 2019

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TO the untrained eye, some placements under the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) Internship Programme could seem like a mismatch, given that not all interns are assigned to hotels or other places of direct hospitality.

But as Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett explained it, placements are aligned with a three 'S' strategy — security, safety and seamlessness — which he said are significant underpinnings of the five pillars that enable growth in the tourism sector.

“You may wonder why you went to a paramedical facility to work... To enable safety and have an understanding of safety you have to go where the providers of safety reside. And it's not just the police, but the hospitals, so we need trauma centres and we need proper clinics, trained nurses that can respond quickly and the best doctors. We also need the best equipment for medical care. So you see just within the sphere of medicine — another moving part — how we are securing the safety of our visitors,” the minister explained.

He continued: “Health care, transportation, road networks and telecommunication systems, which fall under safety, are critical parts of destination assurance, which makes Jamaica a destination of choice. Food supplies and processing fall under security, and seamlessness accounts for how connectivity is created within our space.”

The strategy, he said, is designed to do more than target personal development and etiquette in the workplace; it is designed to expose young people to the broader aspects of tourism.

Bartlett was speaking at the Courtleigh Auditorium on Wednesday at the closing ceremony of this year's iteration of the programme, through which 649 high school and tertiary students were placed at 90 private and public sector entities across the island.

The postings, he said would have given the interns a “very practical and hands-on appreciation of the many moving parts that must come together seamlessly to create the tourism experience that we sell to the world”.

Several interns discussed the various ways they benefited from the programme — the weekly stipend, skill development, and fostering close relationships with their mentors, among the areas listed.

Gayann Clarke, who suffers from cerebral palsy and who was placed at Chapelton Community Hospital, says the programme gave her a chance to express herself and to show people that she's just as capable as others.

It was a similar story for the top-performing female, Le-Ann Connell.

“I want to become a teacher,” she told the Jamaica Observer. “However, I worked at Rockhouse Hotel in Negril. I have developed so many new skills. I am now a leader, not only do I feel more comfortable to work in a classroom, but also I feel like I could lead a group of adults.”

“It has also helped me financially, as I am from a poor family,” she added, while in tears.

The host organisation also had good things to say of the TEF internships, with several of them expressing how pleased they were with the way the interns' work ethic and demeanour complemented their organisations.

“We are very big on customer service and so we are very particular with the type of interns that we accept. I am pleased to say that by the end of the first five weeks, we were up to date with all our projects and records. The interns were exceptional,” said Jasmine Broughton, office manager at Facial and Oral Surgery Associates.

Ten hearing impaired students participated in the internship programme this year.

Programme Manager Diane Brown Allen said interpreters were hired to assist employers and the hearing impaired interns with communication.

“We do not tolerate discrimination. The partners must create a space that is safe and healthy for all our interns. The avenue is open for all interns to report any incident that goes against what we stand for to me,” she said.

The TEF internship programme started six years ago and has touched 3,900 youth aged 16-25.

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