Sandals Resorts in Saint Lucia has graduated another 22 young hospitality professionals through its Hospitality Training Program (HTP), now in its seventh year. The intense ten-week initiative looks to expose young people to practical on-the-job training in various departments across the three Sandals properties in Saint Lucia. Soft skills training like customer service and personal development are also provided. General Manager for Sandals Regency La Toc, Michael James, said the group has given themselves the best gift for the holidays through the commitment to their own training and development in an arena that sustains the island’s growth and one that is evolving globally.
“There are always defining moments in our lives and today is one of those moments for you. You walk out of this room armed with the certification, knowledge and skills that will open many doors for you. Hospitality and Tourism is one of the most important industries on the planet and what you have achieved will take you places. You made that choice and you should congratulate yourselves,” James said. From the graduating group, more than 50 percent have been selected for full-time jobs across various departments on the three properties.
The group was managed by the on-property Training and Development team with support from the Human Resource Department. The Hospitality Training Program began in Jamaica in October 2006 as another initiative by the company’s Chairman Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart and targets young people over the age of 18 years with no formal training in the industry. Training and Development Manager for Sandals Regency La Toc, Johanne Calixte-Augustin said, “Our aim is to ensure that we have prepared the Saint Lucian workforce for the hospitality industry: locally, regionally and internationally.”
Noorani Azeez, Chief Executive Officer for the Saint Lucia Tourism and Hotel Association (SLHTA), served as the guest speaker for Friday’s event. He once held the office of Training and Development Manger at Sandals La Toc. Azeez described Sandals as “the jewel in the crown” of Saint Lucia and Caribbean hospitality.
He underlined the company’s sustained commitment to the ongoing development of not only the industry but also its own human resource capital, which is evident through its continued investment in training and development initiatives like the HTP.
“Sandals cares about our people and this is demonstrated through its many training programs, its Corporate University, its health benefits schemes, its pension program and more, established for the security and growth of its human resources,” Azeez said.
He added, “Sandals understand that what makes them the jewel in the crown in hospitality are the people and this is demonstrated in the resources they pump into your development.” The SLHTA CEO went on to note the wide range of corporate social programs that Sandals has undertaken through its individual properties and under the umbrella of its philanthropic arm – the Sandals Foundation.
The HTP program runs for ten weeks encompassing 420 hours of training made up of soft and technical skills training. At the end of the program all trainees are evaluated through a standard evaluation process which examines their performance over the period. Hospitality accounts for more than 30,000 jobs in Saint Lucia.