Global hospitality consulting and services firm HVS announced it is working with the Yéle Haiti Foundation, a nonprofit organization that has led recovery efforts in Haiti, to launch HEAT, Hospitality Education And Training, a hospitality vocational training initiative.
HEAT is scheduled to debut in September in Jacmel, Haiti, with up to 120 students from the area. HVS and Yéle Haiti have been consulting with the Tourism Association of Haiti as well as various hotel industry representatives regarding the technical and cultural aspects of the program’s curriculum. Yéle Haiti has secured a commitment from the Miami-based Capponi Group to hire many of the first class of graduates, who are scheduled to graduate next March, and is in talks with several independent hotels in Jacmel regarding additional employment commitments.
Parris Jordan, managing director of HVS’s office in the Carribean, added that HVS has received “tremendous feedback and support” regarding the initiative from companies including Hilton, Marriott, Starwood and Wyndham. “Quite often the brands are challenged by recruitment opportunities in many islands — there simply aren’t sufficient qualified local workers for them to select from,” Jordan said. “They see this initiative as an opportunity to improve the quality and quantity of the workforce throughout the region. They also all firmly believe better-trained staff will lead to increased revenue.”
HVS and Yéle Haiti said they plan to pursue future cycles of the program following the first class’s graduation, and Jordan noted that the program’s long-term legacy could be far-reaching given the entire Caribbean region’s dependence on tourism. “For the Caribbean to become truly sustainable, there needs to be improvements to the education and training of local populations in the hospitality and tourism disciplines,” Jordan said. “We believe establishing a well-trained and highly educated workforce will enable the region to benefit from economic growth and improved quality of life for residents as well as enhance the quality of the tourism industry to drive future demand.”