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Negril in need - Resort town requires better-educated workforce, says hotelier

Published:Tuesday | March 29, 2016 | 3:00 AMChristopher Thomas
Daniel Grizzle

WESTERN BUREAU:

Hotelier Daniel Grizzle, founder of the Negril Chamber of Commerce (NCC), has declared that immediate steps must be taken to provide the town's young people with adequate education so they can fit into the workforce, creating the scope for them to contribute to the area's economy.

"We cannot progress unless we educate the people that are coming out of our schools. We are not educating or preparing our youngsters for the jobs that are being created," said Grizzle, while addressing a Gleaner forum on job creation, investment and growth, held in Negril last week.

"This needs to change ... it cannot continue to be that way."

Despite the resort town being in proximity to high schools such as Rusea's, Green Island and Rhodes Hall in Hanover; as well as Manning's, Little London and Godfrey Stewart in Westmoreland, there appears to be very little effort being made to prepare students to fill the job opportunities being made available in tourism.

"One of the problems we have is that 600 rooms will be coming on stream, and some of these properties in Negril are Spanish-owned, and they would like to have, at least in the middle-management, Spanish-speaking people," said Grizzle. "You have Rusea's High School, you have Green Island High School (in Hanover) ... . What are we, as a country, doing to prepare those kids?"

PREPARATION IS KEY

In speaking to the need to have bright young people with refined skills to fill vacancies in the hotel sector, Grizzle, who has served the tourism sector for decades, said the era of just using muscle has passed.

"In modern days, when you want a job from any of the hotels, you send an email with your rÈsumÈ, and if it is impressive enough, you are called for an interview," said Grizzle.

"If you cannot read, the chance of you getting a job is nil. The days when all you needed was a big, strong man with a lot of muscles are gone, so we have to prepare our kids," he added.

"There is not one country that has progressed economically with uneducated people," added Grizzle, who is keen on seeing more youngsters from Negril equipping themselves to fill middle-management job opportunities.

Ryan Morrison, president of the Negril Entertainment Association, is fully supportive of Grizzle's stance and wants to see the current education curriculum tweaked in order to prepare potential job seekers for specific roles in the tourism industry.

"There are certain skills that are required in the tourism belt, so the curriculum must reflect the needed skill set," said Morrison.

"You have a broad-brush approach from Kingston ... . It is a school system, yes, but each area has different ways of making money. So, in the tourist areas, the training should cover things like language and music, all the things that are required for the available jobs in the hotel sector."

christopher.thomas@gleanerjm.com