Saturday 28 November, 2020

New audit will answer: How skilled are Caribbean tourism workers?

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), with funding support from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), will conduct its first-ever regional skills audit to assess the competencies of the Caribbean tourism workforce.

Barbados' Barbados Economic and Sustainable Transformation (BEST) programme is a timely initiative, costing a pretty penny to the tune of BBD $150 million (USD $75 million) and it is geared at improving the skillsets of workers in the tourism sector precisely.

The CTO said in a release that the main goal of the regional human resource development (RHRD) knowledge and skills audit is to help Caribbean tourism planners and policymakers better understand how to most effectively leverage human resource development for a more innovative and competitive industry.

CDB has approved a grant of USD $124,625 from its special fund's resources to help finance the project. The technical assistance grant came through the micro, small and medium enterprises unit of the bank.

“Given the tourism industry’s significant contribution to economic and social development in the region, it is of vital importance to undertake the skills audit, as it will provide insight and foresight on tourism workforce competencies, as well as skills gaps and imbalances in the tourism sector,” said Neil Walters, the CTO’s acting secretary-general.

“We are truly thankful to the CDB for providing the funding for this audit. An audit of this kind is a necessary step in enhancing human resource development in Caribbean tourism since there is a need to rationalise and streamline skills and knowledge development,” Walters added.

The regional financial institution has supported other CTO projects in the past, including a USD $223,312 grant in 2017 for a programme to strengthen the business performance and overall competitiveness of tourism-related micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in ten CDB borrowing member countries through the Hospitality Assured programme.

That same year, it also provided a €460,000 (USD $538,949.80) grant to the CTO to implement a project to increase the Caribbean tourism sector’s resilience to natural hazards and climate-related risks.

“This audit will provide beneficial data and information to assist planners, strategists, policymakers and tourism human resource managers in more effectively identifying capacity-building needs and developing better-targeted interventions,” said Daniel Best, the director of projects department at the CDB. 

Among other objectives, the audit will seek to identify the specific leadership and workforce competencies required to meet the current and future needs of the region’s tourism sector and provide a detailed review of the critical skill sets and resources necessary for the development of a sustainable, high-performing Caribbean tourism workforce. It’s also expected to provide valuable information and recommendations that will assist with the development of policies and better-planned interventions related to human capital.

Data obtained from the audit is also expected to contribute to effective human resource planning for the tourism industry in the region by providing a framework for decision-making to guide the development and refinement of tourism education and training programmes by academic and training institutions in order to reduce skills gaps and mismatches. 

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