The new sector skills council will address the country’s skills needs in the hotel and tourism industry, following an agreement between the Panamanian and UK governments to improve cooperation in the field of education and skills.
People 1st was commissioned earlier in the year to produce a workforce profile and skills need report on the country’s hotel and tourism industry, which was launched at an event, World Skills for Panama, in August.
Brian Wisdom, chief executive at People 1st, attended the event as part of a delegation that included People 1st’s chairman, David Fairhurst. Brian said that the organisation’
“Our team has a lot of experience working with industry employers, associations and government stakeholders, so we’re in a prime position to help establish a sector skills council in Panama.
“The simple fact that we’ve successfully addressed employers’ needs here and made significant improvements to skills in the UK shows that our strategies work. Events such as the London 2012 Olympic Games have already given our sector a great opportunity to show what we’re capable of and it’s exciting to take this experience to Panama to help its hospitality and tourism industry.”
The new body will focus on addressing a number of requirements highlighted in the Skills 2020 report, including the need to provide suitable English language training for hospitality and tourism staff, and to offer a platform for employers and associations to discuss what skills are needed in the industry.
The Panama skills organisation will also look to introduce a world-class customer service training programme, similar to the one tailored for use at the London 2012 Olympics Games and Paralympics, and which is available to any business that wants to train its staff to the standards used at the Games.
Panama’s national institute for vocational training, INADEH*, and the Panamanian government have agreed to provide support and resources to establish the skills council.
The British Embassy was instrumental in providing People 1st with the opportunity to become involved in the project. Michael John Holloway OBE, Her Majesty’s Ambassador, said that the UK skills body will play an important role in helping the country develop a skilled workforce.
“We are delighted to be working with People 1st’s team. They have an in-depth knowledge of how to successfully work with industry to transform skills and improve professionalism, so we are looking forward to drawing on their experience to make Panama a world class tourism destination.”
Key employers and trade associations also agreed to support and engage with the new organisation. Herman Bern, president of Empresas Bern, one of the most influential companies in Panama’s hospitality and tourism sector, is to become the inaugural chairman of the sector skills council.
A full copy of the “Skills 2020: world class skills in Panama's hotel and tourism sector” report and its recommendations can be downloaded from the People 1st website people1st.co.uk/