WANTED: Culinary professionals
At least one player in Jamaica's hotel industry says skill-training institutions such as HEART Trust/NTA are not able to produce the number of culinary professionals needed to fill the demand in Jamaica.
Brian Roper, general manager of Beaches Ocho Rios, located in Boscobel, St Mary, said for anyone to be successful in the culinary field, it requires creativity and innovation.
"The needs are great. There are some skills that do not necessarily exist here. Culinary skills, for example, are not available in Jamaica. It's not just St Mary, it's a shortage right across the country. It's probably the one area that Jamaica imports more skills than any other skill in hospitality. Oxtail and curry goat are great, but our visitors love diversity," he said during a Gleaner Growth Forum held at the hotel in St Mary.
When asked if he believed institutions such as the HEART Trust/NTA are failing to meet the objective of training competent, skilled youngsters, his response was: "They cannot produce the numbers that are needed. Pastry chefs, among other professionals in the culinary world, are areas where we are lacking. A hotel of this size has 58 persons working in the kitchen full time and this is a small hotel. I can't imagine the numbers at the larger hotels, like Moon Palace," Roper told The Gleaner.
"HEART can't produce the number that is needed. They don't have the ability, they don't have the size, and we are forced to do our own training, but we lose them eventually because they all want to go abroad."
Roper went on to explain that the hotel has had to do its own on-the-job training so as to aid in providing quality service to customers.
He said that there is a good pool of youngsters in St Mary who, with guidance and proper training, can fill the gaps that currently exist.