Sat | Aug 18, 2018

Tourism Action Club members get exposed to careers in the tourist industry

Published:Wednesday | March 25, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Third Officer McKoy Gordon, lecturer's assistant, leads students in the simulation exercise, which is a recreation of the Kingston Harbour
Shanalee Palmer of The Queens School expressing appreciation to Director Pennicook on behalf of the TAC members.
Director Pennicook during his rap session with Tourism Action Club members at the  Jamaica Tourist Board's head office  in Kingston.
TAC students during the tour of  the Norman Manley International Airport

Recently, Tourism Action Club (TAC) members participated in a field trip designed to foster dialogue with industry personnel as they chart their career paths.

Participating schools included The Queen's School, St Andrew High School for Girls, Wolmer's Boys, Calabar High, Holy Childhood High, Jamaica College, Dunoon Technical High, Campion College and Vauxhall High.

TAC, a Jamaica Tourist Board initiative, was conceptualised some 20 years ago as one of the ways to empower young minds to continue the industry's rich and successful legacy.

Today, there are more than 80 clubs ranging from secondary to tertiary institutions. The TAC also provides leadership opportunities which prove invaluable as members transition to the world of work. They are given opportunities to interact with industry experts who embolden them to be industry leaders themselves.

The field trip began with a rap session with Paul Pennicook, director of tourism. He provided a fulsome overview to the students on employment opportunities in the industry, explaining that there are numerous career opportunities for employment in the hotel sector, attraction companies, airports and the JTB. He also elaborated on the other careers that support the industry, for example, accountants, information technology specialists, statisticians, human resource personnel and administrators.

"If you are going to be in this industry, you need to have a passion for it. What has kept me motivated over these years is the positive results that I see that come from being committed to selling Destination Jamaica regardless of the entity in which you work. I am encouraged by the number of you here today and wish you the best of luck in your career path," said Director Pennicook.

He also spoke about his personal journey into the industry. As a youngster, he said he felt that he would achieve greater job satisfaction and mobility through the ranks in the hospitality sector.

The Caribbean Maritime Institute was the next stop. There, the club members received information on the institution's course offerings. The highlight of the tour for many was the visit to two simulators that provided practical experiences on how to navigate a vessel. The first simulator was a re-creation of the Kingston Harbour done to scale, providing a real-life demonstration for students at the institute. The second was the control room simulator, which demonstrated the mechanical and engineering skills required to safely operate a vessel.

A tour of the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) completed the day's activities. Christopher Powell, NMIA's operations manager and acting director of airport security gave an overview of the security, procedures at the airport. He was pleased to tell the club members that he has fulfilled many career goals during his years working at the airport. This he said was as a result of the many learning opportunities available to staff. He continued by saying that he has been able to have rewarding experiences as he had worked in multiple departments during his tenure.

The feedback from the students was positive. According to John-Paul Smith of Wolmer's Boys School, the experience was very enlightening.

"I particularly liked the presentation by Pennicook as he mentioned career opportunities in the tourism sector that I had not previously considered."

The experience at Caribbean Maritime Institute was also illuminating for Smith. He was impressed by the simulation activity as it offered a practical introduction to the task of working in the marine industry.

For Shanalee Palmer of The Queen's School, the trip 'was very insightful and informative.

"It exposed us to things that we would otherwise not have the opportunity to see and experience. For those of us who were unsure of our career path, the information exposed us to various facets of the industry in which we could be employed," she said.