Leaders say poor working attitude hurting hospitality, outsourcing sectors
WESTERN BUREAU: While stakeholders in Jamaica’s services industry have been able to use aggressive recruitment strategies to fill vacancies as staff resign to take up other opportunities overseas, they are not happy with the quality of personnel...
While stakeholders in Jamaica’s services industry have been able to use aggressive recruitment strategies to fill vacancies as staff resign to take up other opportunities overseas, they are not happy with the quality of personnel they are getting.
“We are not 100 per cent comfortable, but we are not in the crisis mode we were in three to four months ago,” said Robin Russell, president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association. “We are back to about 85 per cent, but we are still concerned with quality.”
Within recent times, countries such as the United States have been recruiting Jamaicans to fill vacancies in their manufacturing, hospitality, food, and leisure sectors, leaving players in the local business process outsourcing (BPO) and hospitality sectors with a steadily shrinking labour pool.
Tourism, the hub of the hospitality sector, has been the perennial main driver of the Jamaican economy, being the largest employer of local labour while contributing 9.8 per cent of the island’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019.
Some 170,000 direct jobs in the hospitality sector were affected by the economic fallout sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, which halted international travel and led to the loss of hundreds of jobs, including a generation of its most skilled and experienced labour force to the more lucrative BPO industry and seasonal overseas work programmes.
NOT IMPRESSED WITH ATTITUDE
Currently, outsourcing firms are the largest investors in talent, as employees are constantly being upskilled to meet the demand of the client, but top local investor Yoni Epstein is not impressed with the attitude of today’s workforce.
“My perspective is that we don’t necessarily have a shortage. Our real epidemic at this stage is lack of productivity and that is something that needs to be a public-private partnership to drive the importance of productivity in the workspace,” said Epstein, the CEO and chairman at itel/Outsourcing Management Limited.
Epstein also identified a high rate of sick time, absenteeism, and constant lateness among the counter-productive behaviours that are forcing operators to hire up to 40 per cent more staff to meet demand.
In the last quarter of each year, more workers are hired in the outsourcing sector, and according to Anand Biradar, president of the Global Services Association of Jamaica, between last October to December, there was a dip in the quality of applicants seeking employment in the sector.
“We as a sector have managed to hire, and so far, it has not impacted us, but looking at the signs, it will impact, but it is hard to say when,” said Biradar, who believes that, if the current plans in motion do not bear fruit by 2025, Jamaica will be facing a chronic shortage in labour.
There are currently 56,000 workers employed in the outsourcing industry, which generates approximately US$890 million annually. The sector has just over one hundred operations across twelve of the fourteen parishes in Jamaica.