Sandals Resorts in Saint Lucia has just graduated the latest batch of young Saint Lucians from its Hospitality Training Programme (HTP) for 2017, bringing the number of persons it has trained this year to over 200 across all resorts.
The final group of 50 received their Sandals-backed certificates during a ceremony at the Sandals Halcyon Beach Resort.
This means that since inception, Sandals has trained and certified over 1,200 young Saint Lucians, giving many their first step on the road to employment.
General Manager for Sandals Halcyon, Christopher Elliott said the culmination of this year’s programme marked yet another successful push by Sandals Resorts to properly arm the local work force to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the still developing tourism industry.
“We are proud of each and every one of them for committing to the training programme and exceeding, in some cases, even their own expectations. They are now able to tackle the market with confidence and are poised to follow in the footsteps of many who have gone before them. Some of the earlier graduates are now in positions of management within the company here in Saint Lucia and in islands as far as the Bahamas,” Elliott said.
He remarked that Sandals Resorts has truly embraced the concept of a unified Caribbean with the movement of human capital across the region – a position long expressed by the company’s Deputy Chairman and CEO, Adam Stewart.
The 2017 group noted an increase in the quality of participants, most of whom entered with pre-achieved certifications in various fields including administration and marine tourism. According to Training and Development Manager for Sandals Regency LaToc Golf Resort & Spa, Andre Cleghorn, this is a good sign for the increasing strength and growth of the hospitality arena in Saint Lucia.
“There is an exciting future for the industry with the continued investment by Sandals Resorts here and we are happy to not only build new resorts and expand existing ones, but also prepare ourselves and the rest of the island with a strong pool of human resources to complement the product,” Cleghorn said.
For 2017 almost forty of the HTP graduates have retained employment in full- or part-time at the three resorts, while others have secured positions elsewhere in the hotel or cruise sector. Many are also poised to take advantage of opportunities in other islands.
This year also saw a partnership with the St. Lucia Social Development Fund (SSDF) through its Private Sector Liaison Officer Ms. Anya Edwin who canvassed the various communities to extend the opportunity for training and development with Sandals.
Twenty-year-old graduate John Benjamin from Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa & Beach Resort said the programme has personally taught him humility and caused a renewed appreciation for patience and focus on his daily tasks.
“I stand confidently before you and honourably state that my colleagues and I have had ten weeks of a phenomenal experience. No words or expressions can truly express our gratitude to the Training and Development Division, by extension Sandals Resorts International,” Benjamin said in a brief vote of thanks to close the year’s training programme.
He went on to acknowledge the various departmental trainers and other resort staff, “whose patience and coaching transformed us into skillful individuals, equipped with the knowledge and know-how that positions us for the job market.”
The Hospitality Training Programme was initiated at the Sandals Negril-based resorts in 2006 and has since benefitted thousands of young people from the communities and countries in which Sandals operates.
Group Director for Training and Company Standards, Dr. Philip Browne, during a brief visit to Saint Lucia earlier this week, commended the extensive reach and growth of the Hospitality Training Programme here. He said the company prided itself on having full-time Training & Development Managers on staff and available at all times for the growth and development of the industry’s professionals.
“We continue to invest heavily in the development of the Caribbean’s human capital as the tourism industry grows across the islands,” Dr. Browne said. “I believe it is this new generation that will continue what we have built and it is up to us to arm them sufficiently for the task of sustainment that lies ahead.”