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Sandals providing opportunities for youth through internship programme

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Sandals providing opportunities for youth through internship programme

Saturday, February 02, 2019

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EACH year more than 100 young Jamaicans from more than 10 local tertiary institutions receive invaluable hands-on training and experience through Sandals Resorts International’s (SRI) robust internship programme.

According to a Sandals release, the internship programme, which dates back to the company’s earliest years, is a continuation of the resort company’s commitment to investing in young people by providing opportunities for exposure and growth.

“For a number of youngsters who go on to secure full-time employment with the resort chain the internship marks the start of an exciting professional journey,” said the release.

According to Marion Weinbeer-Holding, SRIs Groups internship coordinator, the programme offers tremendous opportunities for personal and professional advancement.

“We have been able to permanently hire multiple interns over the years who have distinguished themselves during their time with us. We are the only company in the hospitality industry in the Caribbean that offers this opportunity to so many students, allowing them to explore different departments and apply the theoretical knowledge they gained in the universities in daily operations,” she said.

“This enables them not only to fulfil the school requirements, but they also receive a stipend and personalised training and development. It is indeed very satisfying to give so many budding hospitality professionals a jump start for their future career,” Weinbeer-Holding said.

Sherece Brown, now the training coordinator at Beaches Negril, knows this all too well, having started her journey with the company as an intern: “The past two years have been an amazing experience for me. I’ve been able to join and contribute to the team here at Beaches Negril and I owe it all to the opportunity I received through my internship,” she said.

Kahadeesha Warsop, a sales executive also employed at Beaches Negril, echoed similar sentiments about the Sandals internship programme. She said: “Unlike internships I’d done in the past, I felt like I was being prepared for a career right away. It was a very hands-on and intense experience but I very quickly learned accountability and how to function effectively as part of a team. I interned at Sandals Grande St Lucian in St Lucia and I was hired at Beaches Negril just two days after returning to Jamaica. I believe that the training and exposure I received through my training equipped me with skills I’ll be able to use throughout my life.”

Sandals Resorts International’s Deputy Chairman Adam Stewart reiterated the company’s belief in the value of internship programmes.

“Many job seekers are expected to have experience despite the fact that they are young graduates and have never had the opportunity to work. Internship programmes such as ours seek to address that issue by allowing interns to walk away with real-world experience to show prospective employers that they have valuable skills which can benefit any organisation. Additionally, a number of our interns do end up receiving full-time employment with us,” said the deputy chairman.

Stewart added: “The internship programme has long been a tradition at Sandals, and we therefore join Minister Floyd Green in calling for more companies to offer internship programmes to our youth.”

Statistics from the Planning Institute of Jamaica’s Economic and Social Survey listed the national unemployment rate for 2017 at 11.7 per cent, while the youth unemployment rate for the same period was recorded at 28 per cent. As a result, the Jamaican Government has been engaging the private sector to foster similar programmes such as SRI’s in a bid to reduce youth unemployment numbers.

According to Stewart, the emphasis on youth development should not just be a Sandals approach but should be adopted nationally by more private sector companies. “Programmes such as these have far-reaching implications not just for the individuals but also for their communities and our country. Both public and private sector interests must consider this as we move toward a better future,” he said.

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