A record-breaking 14,000 students registered to participate in the program. Moreover, an impressive 1,100 students have secured job placements with 136 employers across the country.
“The summer internship program that the Tourism Enhancement Fund has been managing has reached a new high in 2023. It is in keeping with the performance of our industry, and it is correct that this year should be the highest level of enrolment and involvement that the program has had,” said Jamaica Tourism Minister Hon Edmund Bartlett.
The Minister delivered these remarks during a press briefing about the TEF Summer Internship program which took place at the Most Hon. Edward Seaga suite, located at Devon House in Kingston.
One of the significant developments this year is the collaboration between SIP and the Hospitality & Tourism Management (HTM) program. The HTM initiative, in partnership with the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute, offers industry-led certification for high school students interested in hospitality and tourism internships. Over 300 high school students island-wide are engaged in this program, with 150 students completing the mandatory internship required to pass the course.
“The HTM program is another innovation on the part of Jamaica and our tourism.”
The tourism minister added: “Jamaica stands out as the country in the region that offers a high school program granting an associate degree in hotel management and customer service. This achievement has caught the attention of the UNWTO, and they are considering us as a model for their own program of this nature.”
To support the training of these students, six hotels have stepped forward to provide both summer jobs and internships in their respective fields. The list of SIP employers has increased, including prestigious establishments such as the seven Sandals hotel properties, AC Marriott, Golf View Hotel, Altamont Court Hotel, Marriott Courtyard, and Grand Excelsior Hotel. This collaboration enables students to gain valuable experience while working towards their career goals.
Recognizing the importance of the SIP, the Ministry of Finance & the Public Service has significantly increased the stipends for summer interns. The revised stipend structure includes up to $14,500/week for 5th Form students, up to $16,500/week for 6th Form students, up to $18,000/week for 1st and 2nd year college students, and up to $20,500/week for 3rd-year students up to the master’s level. This increased financial support aims to alleviate the burden on students’ families and motivate them to pursue professional development.
As part of the SIP, students also can complete the Customer Service Gold Professional Certification, offered in partnership with the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute. This year, 257 students successfully completed the program and earned their certification, with employers acknowledging the positive impact the training has on student performance and job prospects.
“The certification gives them merit, which must not be denied in the workplace,” said Minister Bartlett. “This certification allows for classification, connecting qualifications to salary levels. We aim to change the labor market by rewarding merit and ensuring equity. Qualified individuals, especially those with a gold professional certification in customer service, deserve recognition and remuneration.”
Since its inception in 2007, the TEF Summer Internship Program has focused on providing Jamaican youth with work experience while instilling professional grooming and workplace etiquette. This year’s SIP budget of $70 million is double the amount allocated in the first ten years of the program, demonstrating its increasing importance and the commitment of the Jamaica Centre for Tourism Innovation (JCTI).
The current cycle of the 2023 SIP has already witnessed the participation of 617 interns from June to mid-July. Nearly 500 students are currently engaged in the program’s second cohort, which will conclude on August 25.