Sat | Sep 23, 2023

As worker shortage bites, St Ann hotels ramp up recruitment

Published:Monday | April 4, 2022 | 12:10 AMCarl Gilchrist/Gleaner Writer
Clifton Reader, president of the JHTA.
Clifton Reader, president of the JHTA.

With most hotels reporting full or near-maximum occupancy, the shortage of workers in the tourism sector remains critical, with outreach being made with overseas work programme directors to help ramp up training locally.

In the meantime, two of St Ann’s major resort properties that operate more than 1,500 rooms between them are advertising to fill job vacancies as the industry rebounds after losing tens of thousands of jobs at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

The 850-room Bahia Principe in Runaway Bay begins a three-day job fair on Monday at Holiday Haven in the resort town. Recruitment is also scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.

The hotel will be accepting applications for nearly 20 job areas, including cooks, waiters, bartenders, room attendants, butlers, entertainment coordinators, front desk and guest services agents, supervisors, and other areas.

Meanwhile, the 705-room Moon Palace Jamaica in Ocho Rios has advertised 24 positions, ranging from food and beverage, and maintenance, to front office departments, public relations, telephone operating, and beauty therapy.

Clifton Reader, Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) president and managing director at Moon Palace, said the worker shortage affecting the tourism sector was grave.

“There is a real shortage throughout,” Reader told The Gleaner on Sunday.

Reader explained that a number of workers who were laid off because of the outbreak had started their own business, while others have migrated. Some have snared better-paying jobs in the business process outsourcing sector, he said.

“So, it’s a combination of those things, plus the overseas work programmes are looking for people. Now the ships are coming back and Americans are resigning left, right, and centre. They (work programmes) are taking up a lot of the Jamaican workers as well,” the JHTA president said.

“We’re working with the training institutions here to make sure they ramp up their thing. We’re just soaking up the graduates they are turning out. Within the hotels as well, we’re doing a lot of training as the hotels are basically running full and will be full during the summer.”

Reader said there is also a move to get help from overseas with training.

“What we’re trying to do is to get the overseas-based programme directors to assist with training locally. We need assistance setting up additional programmes in HEART and other training institutions,” Reader disclosed.