“THE traditional factors of production—land, labour, and capital—are becoming restraints rather than driving forces. Knowledge is becoming the one critical factor of production.”
Peter F. Drucker
“Education is the great growth industry of the Third World.”
Sir Arthur Lewis
You may not know who Peter Drucker is, but you would appreciate the view of Saint Lucia’s very own Nobel Laureate Sir Arthur Lewis. Peter Drucker is one of the foremost thinkers on management strategy, and he shares the view of Sir Arthur that the development of Knowledge is now at the top of the list.
In the Caribbean, there is only one privately-owned company that stands heads and shoulders above anyone else when it comes to training, re-training and developing not only its own human resource, but that of all the communities where it operates. That company is Sandals Resorts International.
In March 2012, the internationally-acclaimed resort chain took its mandate to invest in human development to a whole new level with the launch of the Sandals Corporate University. The SCU is the company’s adult education programme for Caribbean nationals employed by Sandals Resorts, Beaches Resorts and Grand Pineapple Beach Resorts. The SCU provides educational programmes that include more than 230 courses and external partnerships with over 13 top-ranking local and international universities.
Persons who work at Sandals are among a select few anywhere in the world who can access educational training at the highest level. Sandals Chairman Gordon Stewart has recognized that giving someone a salary is not good enough, and so his brand has spent millions of dollars ensuring that the over 14,000 persons who work at Sandals have an opportunity to better their educational status.
Said Stewart: “I have always said that when Sandals trains an individual, that individual can get a job at any hotel anywhere in the world. To be ‘Sandals-certified’ is to be given an asset of high value. Unfortunately, it is also why new hotels are always seeking to poach Sandals staff.”
In a recent interview with Business Focus, President of the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association Sanovnik Destang commented: “Without a doubt the development of human resources is the key to unlocking productivity and business improvement processes, particularly in hospitality. The presence of a highly skilled and knowledgeable workforce will ensure a competitive edge and a culture that places priority on the acquisition of knowledge and skills to drive attitudes and quality standards.”
For several years now Sandals has been at the helm of such activity, contributing to the development of significant numbers of Saint Lucian nationals who have been able to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Sandals Corporate University, including its scholarship programme that allows them to pursue Master’s or even Doctoral degrees.
Altogether over 11,000 persons have benefitted from its numerous certificate programmes throughout the Caribbean, while just under 800 have received professional certification as a result of scholarships given by Sandals amounting to almost US$1 million.
Sandals Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Adam Stewart is mindful of the contribution of team members to what the resort has achieved …after all, Sandals has been voted the World’s Best for 23 consecutive years. He said: “A big part of why we are so successful is the input of our team members. They are among the finest in the world, and we are proud to invest in their training and development. No one else invests in people the way we do, not just internally, but for the wider community through our Hospitality Training Programme as well.”
The HTP programme is a 10-week training programme available to young persons throughout the Caribbean. More than 1000 young men and women have graduated in Saint Lucia alone. In December 2016, 73 additional graduates from Saint Lucia entered the job market as ‘Sandals-certified’.
The SCU is seeking to expand even further in the future, according to its Group Director of Training and Service Standards Dr. Phillip Brown. This means good news for the over 1500 members of staff now employed at Sandals Saint Lucia, and the hundreds more due to he hired when the resort’s fourth hotel; Sandals LaSource Saint Lucia opens its doors in the near future.