ST. LUCIA’S newest learning institute focusing on the ever-growing hotel and tourism industry was officially launched last week and opened the minds of hundreds of form five students to becoming prospective students.
The Caribbean Hospitality And Tourist Training Institute (CHTTi) held its first-ever Hospitality Career Preparation Workshop at the National Cultural Centre last week Wednesday to showcase the institute’s 15-week courses being offered at its Vieux Fort and Castries branches.
On the day, form five students from over 15 secondary schools from across the island, got the chance to learn more about CHTTi’s courses.
The three-hour long event featured speeches from invited guest speakers, including the Director of the Alliance Francaise, Madame Evelyne Gasse, and Director of Lynchburg College St. Lucia Campus, Dr. Wendy Bailey-Joseph.
The event also featured songs and skits on a number of different issues within the industry, including short skits performed by CHTTi apprentices on how to dress appropriately for an interview as well as how to write a CV.
Master of ceremony, Mervin Agiste said CHTTi is a hospitality and tourism-driven institute geared at targeting youth. He said CHTTi is in partnership with the NSDC and currently trains young school-leavers in Food and Beverage Service, Bartending, Housekeeping, Sales and Marketing and Line Cook.
CHTTi, he said, was formed to ensure that a sustainable tourism industry will be the driving force of St. Lucia’s economic and social recovery, leading lives and prospects from all sectors of tourism and hospitality.
Agiste, who is also the institute’s Communications and Recruitment Officer, said the executive of CHTTi have been working tirelessly for over a year to ensure that the services offered would be unmatched and, more importantly, be a leading force of tourism and hospitality skills training in the region.
He said of the event: “This was a medium to enlighten school students and school-leavers about the prospects within the hospitality industry for career options and vocational training. What we have realised is that a lot of people don’t see the need for certification in vocational areas and what we want to do is to highlight that there is a bright future ahead for vocational education because the career prospects that are available are limitless and comparable to other industries.”
Agiste said the institute wants apprentices to have the knowledge and resources to push their limits, maximise their learning, and develop their talents through a supportive nurturing learning environment with industry experience and qualified mentors.
He said: “What we want to do is to ensure that these young persons make viable career choices with the courses that they choose. In addition to these courses, we have a lot of complementary areas that we stress on: human relations, sales and marketing, foreign language, first aid, health and safety.”
He added: “One thing we’re doing is that we’re not just looking to place people in available vacancies but we’re training people to be confident enough to start their own businesses. It’s not about just finding where the next available dollar is; this is a long- term decision and it will affect people for the rest of their lives. Hopefully, we’re guiding them through that process very carefully.”
He also said that the apprentices are even taught to take their skills out of St. Lucia: “We’re in partnership with the Florida Caribbean Cruise Ship Association, so definitely towards the end of the training programme, our apprentices will be made available for employment opportunities over there. And we’re working very closely with the government to ensure that at the end of the day, there is something at the end of the training.
CHTTI registered in 2016 with Ministry of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development. However, they started teaching last January.
The compound in Vieux For currently has 75 apprentices being trained and just moved to their Castries branch at Barnard Hill where four courses have started, including sales and marketing, food and beverage, bartending and housekeeping
Students who complete the course gain certification through three levels, including NVQ CVQ and the American Hospitality Certification through the American Lodging Institute.