BHA, Ministry of Tourism Offer 110 New Jobs

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The Ministry of Tourism in conjunction with its industry partners will provide 110 paid apprentice jobs for Bahamians, according to Tourism and Aviation Minister Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, who yesterday unveiled the first component of the government's temporary job program.

The announcement came one day after Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham tabled a supplementary appropriations bill in the House of Assembly to fund that program. In total, $14.6 million is budgeted for the scheme which will create approximately 2,500 jobs that will last for six months.

At a press conference at the British Colonial Hilton, Vanderpool-Wallace announced that the Ministry of Tourism and the Bahamas Hotel Association (BHA) will place the selected group in a variety of jobs in the tourism sector for a period of six months.

Vanderpool-Wallace said that at the end of the process, 20 of the 10 selected people will be offered full time positions. The resumes of the remaining 90 people will be kept on file at the ministry as a resource when a position becomes available and will reside online at www.tourismtoday.com.

Vanderpool-Wallace said not only will the program offer relief to those who don't have jobs, but it will help the tourism sector in general.

"It will deliver the kind of valuable people in our sector that we know have been missing for some time," he said.

Vanderpool-Wallace noted that many people in the tourism sector are "brought up in a very vertical fashion" and therefore are not introduced to the broader tourism business.

In addition to the Ministry of Tourism, hotels, restaurants, various attractions, tour operators, marinas and other tourism related businesses will take on apprentices.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Tourism, the apprentices will be put through "the industry's exciting and rigorous program". During that time, they will be placed on a two-month rotation in three different organizations.

"They will be exposed to the broadest public and private sector experiences which are important for the development of well-rounded tourism professionals. During the apprenticeship period the established minimum wage of $210 per week will apply," according to the statement.

Vanderpool-Wallace said he wants to ensure that the apprentices learn everything they can about the tourism sector.

Bahamas Hotel Association President Robert "Sandy" Sands said the industry is looking to find a new breed of industry leaders.

"During the economic trying times, it is essential that we continue to invest in our industry's future. The future success of our industry will largely depend on the quality of talent that is performing in our sector today and tomorrow. This program demonstrates that commitment," he said.

Sands added that the BHA has embraced the opportunity that the program provides.

"For too long our sector has been grabbing at the bottom of the pool for persons to be employed in our sector," he said. "That's [because] we've never had a pool or a cadre of persons who would have gone through some type of screening process or who would have been vetted to be even considered for possible employment. This process would allow us in the first instance a minimum of 20 persons but more important it allows us to begin to develop a pool who we can call upon to fill vacant jobs."

He ensured that this program will not displace current employment levels within the industry.

Additionally, Sands said companies involved in the program will not compromise their recruitment opportunities for attracting employees.

Applications are expected to be available online at www.tourismtoday.com/apprentice today.

Applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 30 and computer literate. Successful applicants will be required to provide proof of Bahamian citizenship, a valid police record, a current medical certificate, and copies of academic qualifications and/or proof of prior work experience.

Vanderpool-Wallace said all Bahamians meeting the criteria are welcome to apply. Interested people in the Family Islands will likely be interviewed through an online video program, such as skype.

All applications are due by November 27. The work program will start on December 14. The chosen workers will be screened by various hotel human resource managers.

At the end of the process employees will receive a certificate of participation.

Source: The Nassau Guardian