As of September 2021, a new customer service institution – The Caribbean Hospitality and Tourism Training School (CHTTS)- will officially be launched here in Dominica.
Located in Castle Comfort on the compound of the former Ever Green Hotel, the first-of-its-kind institute in Dominica aims to train employees or individuals in the tourism industry to improve their skills and/or acquire new ones.
Speaking during the official launching ceremony, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CHTTS, Tony Paul, said the idea was conceptualized to enhance quality in the workforce which he believes most institutions on island are severely lacking.
“If a hairdresser comes in, he or she will not have to go looking for staff, they will be training the students who they can use to work for them,” he explained. “For example, if someone wants to rent one of the rooms as an ice cream parlour, their trainees will learn everything from that certified individual from how to prepare a cone, how to make the ice cream, how to deal with customers. So, our goal is to make the school a hands-on approach.”
The businessman who describes himself as one who was born into tourism, revealed that he’s been pursuing this venture for over twenty years but it finally became a reality for him and his team three years ago when he purchased the Hurricane Maria-battered hotel from the Winstons.
The targeted age range, he says, is as early as 12 years old, as “someone is never too young or too old to learn something new.”
Proving an overview of how the certification will be awarded, Quality Assurance Consultant of the Dominica Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Council, Abraham Durand, reported that in 2006 CARICOM voted into being a certification for skills called the Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ).
He said this qualification commences with level one directly supervised/or entry level worker, level two, supervised skilled worker, three, independent or autonomous skilled worker, while level four represents specialized or supervisory worker and five managerial and/or professional worker.
Therefore, each instructor will be required to be certified at least two levels above the people which he or she will be training and will also need to be experienced in their field of studies.
According to Durand, The CVQ certification is aimed at preparing the candidates for the work environment and the closer one can simulate that work environment, the more effective your training is going to be.
“So the CVQ certification is looking more towards what the candidate can do, and how well the candidate can think on their feet, how well can they make decisions, and how well can they innovate the three main elements that the assessor is looking for,” he stated.
While the school isn’t the first in the region, Durand noted that it is new to Dominica, therefore, requires the effort of all stakeholders to make it a success, especially given that the council that will be providing supervision is still in its infancy.
For her part, Executive Director of the TVET Council in Dominica, Paula Seraphin, explained that the certification that each student will be awarded will be recognized and respected throughout the Caribbean and in many parts of the world.
“And so, this will empower Dominicans further whether you have a Master’s or a degree or whatever, being the holder of a CVQ certification empowers you to also move around the region because CSME has made provision for CVQ holders to work in any CARICOM island” she stated. “This is indeed unprecedented and it is a great happening here in Dominica.”
She is hopeful that the Dominica TVET Council, which operates under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, will be empowered by their parent Ministry to deliver the CVQ certification soon.
Events Coordinator at the Dominica Festival Committee (DFC) Marva Williams congratulated Paul and his team and highlighted the need, given the advent of social media, for customer service to be placed at the forefront for island that relies heavily on the tourism industry.
She said in light of the increase in hotels, the new hospital and the upcoming international airport, now more than ever there is a higher demand among the tourists for quality customer service.
Given the business motto, “the customer is always right,” Williams believes that training such as what is being provided by the school will not only enhance the business sector but will also boost Dominica’s rating.
“This school will help to advance the hospitality industry and not only the hospitality industry but so many other industries that tourism itself depends on to thrive. It will help to solidify that we indeed are the nature island, that we are friendly and we can provide quality, friendly and customer-oriented care and services to people coming into Dominica,” she stated.
Project Officer for the Eastern District In the Ministry of Environment, Rural Modernisation and Kalinago Upliftment Eldorado Ducreay is hoping that the new school will help to address one of the major challenges which the craft industry, especially in the Kalinago Territory, faces and that is the authentication of projects.
He said they are considering the introduction of certification for people in the craft industry for people in the craft industry which will enable them to verify the product with the barcode and authenticate it as Dominican thereby eliminating copying of the product.
Ducreay indicated that all certifications will be available online to avoid many of the challenges faced with only being handed a hard copy.
Classes are expected to commence in early September with a total of 100 students.