More US Jobs Coming - American Hospitality Sector Looking For 3,000 Jamaican Workers

Indications are that some 3,000 Jamaicans will get jobs under the United States overseas hospitality programme this year as several new employers enter the market.

The projection was made by Minister of Labour and Social Security Dr Fenton Ferguson last Wednesday as he hosted five US recruiters at the Hilton Rose Hall in Montego Bay, St James.

The recruiters, some with relationships with Jamaica going back 17 years, were in the island seeking to employ more than 260 seasonal Jamaican hospitality workers for the states of North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Michigan.

The companies, Kiawah Resort, Mackinaw Seasonal Resort, Sea Pines, Harrah's Casino, Mission Point, and Sea Island Resort interviewed cooks, housekeepers, waiters, servers, receptionists, kitchen stewards, laundry, spa, cabana and fitness attendants, and housemen.

Rebound In The Market

The latest recruiting drive is a clear indication of a rebound in the market, which dipped in 2008, but has been seeing an upward trend since 2010.

"The 2015 total has been the highest recorded since 2010. We have had an increase of 56 per cent, from 1,232 hospitality workers sent to the US in 2014 to 1,927 in 2015," said Ferguson.

He noted that this year promises the possibility of an even more significant increase. "Not only have new employers shown an interest, but a few formerly registered with the ministry, but ventured to participate in the private employment programme, are now returning."

Labour Market Reform

The labour minister said part of his mandate, as instructed by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, is to look at the whole question of labour market reform; growing the overseas programme, even while repositioning the ministry to be seen in the context of contributing to the country's growth agenda.

"And to see it in connection with our 2030 development objective of the country, ensuring this is properly aligned," Ferguson told the group of employers, who lauded Jamaicans as key to their businesses.

"You cannot teach friendly, and that's what Jamaicans have over the other nationalities employed to the programme. If there were 25 hours in a day, Jamaicans would have no problem working. They bring a lot to the table ... the Jamaican work ethic is great," says Sea Island's Jonathan Jerusalmy.

His colleague and senior recruiting manager, Margaret Harris, said she would employ a Jamaican over a Filipino or a Romanian any day.

But Harris expressed concern that the programme, which could be doing so much more for Jamaica, is being frowned on by some in the US who see it as taking jobs from Americans.

"And it's not taking jobs from Americans. We are employing Jamaicans in areas where we cannot hire Americans because of lack of population or quality workers," said Harris.

She argued that by bringing international team members to the US, this actually increases jobs for Americans through transportation, housing and the local economy.

"TJ Max is almost completely bought out when everyone is getting packed and ready to go back home. The problem with the programme is not on the Jamaican side, it's on the American side; because of the restrictions and all of the different changes to the programme that is been imposed, it is increasingly difficult for us to get our visas granted."

She urged the labour minister to seek audience with the decision-makers in Washington, DC.

"If you (Minister Ferguson) know anyone in Washington call them, maybe they would better understand the programme and why employers look to it for help," she stated.

Ferguson said one of the things he planned to do was to ask for a meeting with the US ambassador to Jamaica and Jamaica's emissary in Washington.

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-Jamaica Gleaner - 
January 17, 2016

Last modified on Sunday, 17 January 2016 19:38
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41 comments

  • lenford nesbeth

    Good opportunity hope it's real

    posted by lenford nesbeth Sunday, 31 January 2016 13:06 Comment Link
  • S. Thomas

    @Monique Moses...why not apply for assessment and certification/training at one of the HEART Trust/NTA locations considering you do not have a certificate? this will enable you to get a certificate...be mindful though, that you must go through a process.. I assure you, it will be worth it!
    visit http://www.heart-nta.org to view institutions that are closest to you.
    All the best

    posted by S. Thomas Wednesday, 27 January 2016 00:07 Comment Link
  • Latty

    Good day,
    How does one apply for the overseas programme? I am particularly interested in any dining room and kitchen position having had over 15 years training and experience in those departments.

    posted by Latty Tuesday, 26 January 2016 15:29 Comment Link
  • Kadiann Coghiel Moore

    I am interested in this program how do I apply for it?

    posted by Kadiann Coghiel Moore Tuesday, 26 January 2016 10:38 Comment Link
  • Lorisha

    Im interested. how do I apply for this Programme?

    posted by Lorisha Friday, 22 January 2016 14:09 Comment Link
  • Llateka Ambersley

    How do I apply? I have a diploma in customer service.

    posted by Llateka Ambersley Friday, 22 January 2016 07:54 Comment Link
  • Chodie -  Ann Oakley-Douglas

    I holds a NVQ-J CERTIFICATE IN DATA OPERATIONS 1 & 2 WITH SIX YEARS EXPERIENCE with computer.

    posted by Chodie - Ann Oakley-Douglas Thursday, 21 January 2016 02:39 Comment Link
  • monique moses

    I am a 18 teen year old girl I have no diploma nor certificate so I don't now if I am going to b able but i have skilled in housekeeping and bartending

    posted by monique moses Wednesday, 20 January 2016 14:11 Comment Link
  • Kerenr Cuff

    Please send me detailed information in relation on how to apply.

    posted by Kerenr Cuff Wednesday, 20 January 2016 01:18 Comment Link
  • Stacy Brown

    I have a level three food preparation certificate and a level two housekeeping certificate and one year and six months work experience in the food industry.

    posted by Stacy Brown Tuesday, 19 January 2016 23:43 Comment Link

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