19 May 2018

Ministry Working Together To Find Solutions

Mr. Speaker, It gives me great pleasure to provide this Honourable House with an update on the Hospitality training program for Room Attendants that the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has been instrumental in driving during the past few months.  Let me first start by providing some background for my Honourable colleagues as it relates to how the Room Attendant training program initiative originated.  

My Cabinet colleagues, the Honourable Jamahl Simmons, Minister of Economic Development and Tourism and the Honourable Michael Weeks, Minister of Social Development and Sport, and myself were approached a few months ago by industry partners who shared their need for professionally trained and certified Guest Room Attendants for the current tourism season.  

This presented an opportunity for the birth of a public-private partnership in response to industry needs that will:

i) meet the demands of the workforce;

ii) identify an avenue for persons on Financial Assistance to re-enter the workforce; and,

iii) train and certify unemployed Bermudians for future employment in local hotels.  

Simply put, it was a unique win-win opportunity.  For this reason I, along with my Cabinet colleagues in our response, committed to this joint initiative.

The Department of Workforce Development has worked cross- Ministry and with various industry stakeholders to bring this well-timed opportunity for Bermudians, to fruition.  Key industry partners include the Bermuda Hospitality Institute (BHI), the Fairmont Southampton, the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, and the Department of Financial Assistance.

The Bermuda Hospitality Institute was instrumental in identifying an experienced facilitator and the training curriculum through the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute.  The Department of Financial Assistance ensured that their unemployed able-bodied clients were referred to participate in the training programme.  This training will support them in returning to the workforce and making a valuable contribution to Bermuda’s hospitality industry. 

The Career Development and Training teams at the Department of Workforce Development recruited participants, administered skills assessments, vetted candidates and sponsored the training.  Additionally, assistance was provided to candidates in the areas of writing resumes and interviewing skills.

In concert with the planning by the Department of Workforce Development teams, the Fairmont Southampton and the Hamilton Princess Beach provided the facilities for classroom instruction and guided the practical training component; pairing trainees with current housekeeping employees who modelled the Fairmont Southampton work standard. The work performance of each trainee was evaluated accordingly.

The training was held for a two-week period, inclusive of one week of classroom instruction and one week practical, hands-on component.  At the conclusion of the training, each participant completed an exam that measured their knowledge and understanding of the expected standards for becoming a room attendant of excellence.

The Guest Room Attendant Programme is designed to teach about the fundamentals and theory of quality housekeeping service.  Participants gained knowledge on:

• Standard operating procedures for guest room attendants, or housekeepers;

• Guest relations and how to properly make a bed and clean a bathroom; and

• The Guest Room Attendant’s role which extends beyond just cleaning to warmly greeting guests and serving them to ensure they have a memorable visit at the property.

The trainees who successfully completed the program, received a broad-based certificate from the American Hotel and Lodging Association as a Certified Guestroom Attendant. This represents a professional certification which indicates the highest standards of competence as a hospitality professional.

It gives me great pleasure this morning to inform my Honourable colleagues that to- date, a total of three cohorts have participated in this joint training initiative.  The Fairmont Southampton hosted and trained cohorts one and two that commenced on February 19th and March 19th, respectively.  The Hamilton Princess Beach Club hosted and trained the third cohort that commenced on April 16th and concluded on April 27th.    

A total of fifty-three persons participated in the training program and sent the exams which are sent overseas to the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) for scoring.    It should be noted that the two participants who did not pass the exam are eligible to re-sit.  We certainly will be encouraging them to remain committed so that they too can obtain the credential.  

On April 19th, thirty-seven trainees from Cohorts 1 & 2 were recognized for earning the Certified Guestroom Attendant credential at a special presentation held at the Fairmont Southampton.   Each was awarded a certificate and pin to wear proudly, from the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute.    

Nine trainees were hired from the first Cohort by the Fairmont Southampton.

Those persons from Cohort Two are presently in the recruitment phase with four preliminary hires for the Fairmont Southampton and one with The Reefs Hotel.  A total of seven trainees were hired from the third Cohort with the Hamilton Princess Beach Club.  

The Department of Workforce Development continues to assist participants and are sourcing opportunities with other local hotels.  Furthermore, they plan to work with the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) to explore the possibility of entrepreneurship for the Certified Room Attendants, for example with Airbnb’s.

Mr. Speaker,

In closing, let me remind the House and the general community that this Government is committed to diversifying training and connecting work program initiatives to jobs so that Bermudians are employed in all sectors of the workforce.  

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the teams at the Department of Workforce Development, the Department of Financial Assistance, the Bermuda Hospitality Institute, the Fairmont Southampton and the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club properties, for the roles played in making this public-private industry initiative a success.  


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