One hundred and six students from eleven direct and indirect tourism businesses can now speak Spanish and French after completing Language for Business and Tourism courses.
The virtual graduation ceremony for the first cohort, who completed the beginners’ level, took place Friday. Attendees included Principal of Barbados Community College (BCC), Annette Alleyne, Director (Ag.) Barbados Language Centre, Paul Blackman, other BCC facilitators, and tourism representatives.
The National Transformation Initiative (NTI) facilitated the six-week training in partnership with the Barbados Language Centre, a division of BCC. Classes, which started on February 8, were undertaken through Government’s Barbados Employment and Sustainable Transformation (BEST) programme that invests in tourism businesses to re-engage all their workers and transform their properties and services.
The courses aimed to ensure that tourism workers expanded their skills in becoming conversant in foreign languages, given the ever-evolving global environment. Learners can now provide directions, take orders and offer assistance to guests in both languages.
Director of the NTI, Dr. Allyson Leacock congratulated the 69 Spanish and 37 French students on their achievement and encouraged them to continue to develop themselves into STARR Bajans.
She told the students that transformation is not optional but imperative, and takes place one person at a time. “Now you are in a position to show visitors the ultimate compliment by speaking to them in their language,” she said, challenging them to practice their new skills and move on to intermediate levels of the programme.
Dr. Leacock further stressed the NTI’s commitment to being responsive to the challenging Covid-19 environment, and impressed upon graduates the importance of personal and professional development beyond the pandemic.
She said: “Covid-19 has shown us very clearly the value of retooling and upskilling so that we are empowered, and that our skills as a people and as a country make us ready for a future after Covid. While it will be here with us for a long time, we want to be globally fit for purpose when it is finished.”
Principal Alleyne congratulated the cohort for taking on the challenge of developing a new skill. She said, “I want to congratulate all of you for grasping the opportunity to develop new skills … I hope this experience helped you to see your potential to achieve great things.”
She also reaffirmed the college’s commitment to the development of students and Barbados, and expressed BCC’s appreciation to the NTI for being a valued partner.
In sharing her pride in the achievement of her team members, Director of Human Resources at Hilton Barbados, Cheryl Corbin also noted a heightened sense of enthusiasm among their colleagues in enrolling in the programme to acquire language skills. She expressed gratitude to NTI and BCC for hosting the training, and both lauded and encouraged all graduates to continue striving for excellence.
Kendrea Harris, of Ocean Two Resort and Residences, who successfully completed studies in French, also conveyed her gratitude to tutors for their patience and guidance. On March 22, the second cohort, learners from Hilton Barbados, will undertake Spanish, while those from all other companies will begin Spanish and French at both beginners and intermediate levels on April 5.