Young trainees secure employment at leading resorts

Fifty percent of the 28 young people who graduated from the Sandals Grande Antigua Hospitality Training Programme (HTP) on Monday December 14, have secured full-time employment at the couples-only resort, with more placements expected.

In September, over 100 people applied, of which 75 were interviewed, for the training programme. That number was further whittled-down to 28 young people who were offered placement in the 10-week programme.

Grand Pineapple Beach Resort, which is owned by the Sandals brand, ran a simultaneous programme and has also offered employment to some of its successful trainees.

Training and Development Manager at Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa, Matara Murphy said while the resort does not guarantee a place to all trainees, successful ones are given preference when vacancies arise.

“Over the ten week period, the group participated in practical training in the departments of their choice. They also received soft skills training such resume writing, acing the interview and customer service. We are very concerned about the holistic development of the next generation of hospitality industry employees and we believe this programme works well to address the more general employability needs of tomorrow’s work force,” Murphy said.

During the programme trainees are graded on their performance and all those successful are awarded a certificate upon completion. For those who could not be offered an immediate place at Sandals or Pineapple, their training offices keep a register from which they make recommendations to other resorts across the island.

Iama Browne-James, who training in the Kitchen, was offered employment upon completion. She said growing up she never imagined herself working towards becoming a chef but that being in the programme changed her mind.

“We learned to appreciate great opportunities even when it doesn’t seem easy to achieve. This programme allowed our personalities to shine and helped us understand ourselves better. We made new friends and learned to be more patient,” she said at the graduation ceremony.

Another trainee, O’korie Matthew trained in the Front Office department but will be transferring his newly-acquired customer service skills to the resort’s Gift Shop, where he is now a full-time member of the team.

The new staff members, or “talent” as they are referred to at Sandals Grande, have received spots in the sales, kitchen, Club Sandals (Concierge), bar, housekeeping, water sports, stewarding, and resort shop departments.

In January, Sandals and Grand Pineapple will accommodate a new batch of HTPs and have already received over 140 applications for 24 spots. Training Manager Murphy said the programme is fast becoming very competitive.

“We want to advise young people considering their options out there, that hospitality is a great industry to work in especially at Sandals which keeps staff employed year-round. Take this opportunity to get your foot in the door, and as the last HTP class has proven, it is worth your time.”