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BahamaHost to introduce e-learning

BahamaHost, the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation’s signature industry training program, will be going digital in an effort to accommodate more participants, according to Ian Ferguson, the ministry’s director of training and education.

The e-learning program is expected to be facilitated in conjunction with the University of The Bahamas (UB) and delivered through a virtual classroom.

“We are excited about utilizing and leveraging technology to reach the masses, and create this proverbial tsunami of excellence we so desperately need,” said Ferguson during the recent BahamaHost graduation ceremony at the William Thompson Auditorium.

In the new direction, he said, BahamaHost sessions in New Providence and Grand Bahama will engage active live participants in all the Family Islands.

He noted that there are over 7,000 school leavers each year seeking to enroll in tertiary education programs or hit the pavement in search of jobs, and that statistics show that over 50 percent of high school leavers do not achieve the mandatory 2.0 grade point average (GPA) required to apply and that BahamaHost provides a viable option for the leavers whose high school careers might have been met with challenges.

Ferguson said since January, nine schools in New Providence and six Grand Bahamian schools were among schools actively certifying their 11th and 12th grade students in the BahamaHost training program. He said over 300 students received certification.

The most recent cohort showcased participants in one of the new features of the rebranded training program in the module global impact which incorporated diversity and cross-culture workshops. The highlight of the module was conversational Spanish – a four-hour session in which participants experienced ways to engage Spanish-speaking participants. Among the recent graduation was the first group of basic conversational Spanish certificate recipients.

Basic conversational French is expected to be introduced into the program in 2019; with conversational Mandarin in 2020. Level two of basic conversational Spanish, he said, would start with their second cohort of level one of basic conversational Spanish.

But Ferguson told the graduates that their true test would be what they do differently because of their training.

The theme for the graduation was “Training Towards a Diversified and Expanding Economy”.

Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar, who also spoke at the ceremony, told the graduates he was proud of them for staying the course and completing their certification as BahamaHost ambassadors. He encouraged them to provide excellent service in tourism.

And told them that career-wise they had two paths – to become an independent business owner in the tourism sector or hold down their position on a job, and perform their duties like a boss.

He also reminded them that if they believe they have a viable business idea, product, service or an experience that would appeal to guests, that they must have a certain mindset and a special appreciation for making money. And that they have to be self-motivated and self-driven, with a determination of steel, a natural business acumen and solid leadership skills. For those looking to own their own business, Ferguson said they needed a captive market. But if owning their own business is not for them, he said that, too, was all right.

The tourism minister also reminded the graduates that planning is the foundation of any venture and that they are able to avail themselves of resources – namely the Tourism Development Corporation (TDC) and the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) which he said were in place to assist the emerging entrepreneur with the process of launching a business. The objective of both organizations is to facilitate local entrepreneurs who want to go into business – whether it be tourism-related or unrelated to tourism.

“From the moment you make contact with these organizations they will take your hand and shepherd you through the process of fine-tuning your business concept, mapping out a business plan, tying you into a network of like-minded fellow entrepreneurs with whom you can share ideas. Both organizations offer training in the fundamentals of running a business,” said the tourism minister.

TDC focuses primarily on the formation of tourism-based business including community-based tourism; SBDC facilitates general entrepreneurship and directly grants funding for business ventures.

“Whatever path you choose, I ask for your continued commitment and dedication to making it better in The Bahamas,” said D’Aguilar.

Enrollment in BahamaHost meant an investment of 40 hours by participants.

BahamaHost was recently rebranded to include modules with titles such as “Proud to Be Bahamian”, “Tourism Today”, “The Bahamian Service Experience” and “Foreign Language Training and Empowerment.”

According to Ferguson, since 1978, the tourism ministry’s industry training department has been empowering Bahamians with knowledge, skills and competencies toward service excellence. And that each of their six units operates with one overarching goal: to expand the economy through the vehicle of relevant and impactful training.

He said their core team registers literally hundreds of participants each year for the training initiative, of which there were 14 overall general sessions conducted in New Providence with approximately 28 people per session.

Grand Bahama recently held their spring graduation exercise where there were some 250 public service drivers, bankers, educators, hotel employees and others in and out of the tourism and hospitality sector.

Since January, Ferguson said they have sent trainers to the Berry Islands, Mayaguana, Exuma and Eleuthera, and that 161 Family Islanders had benefited from their sessions.

 

Shavaughn Moss

Lifestyles Editor at The Nassau Guardian
Shavaughn Mossjoined The Nassau Guardianas a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor.Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics.
Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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