Mitchell: More cruise lines interested in recruiting from Trinidad and Tobago

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A female security officer tries to get the attention of hundreds gathered outside SAPA San Fernando to sign up for cruiseship jobs being offered by Royal Caribbean on Wednesday. – Photo by Lincoln Holder

Tourism, Culture and the Arts Minister Randall Mitchell said several cruise ship lines have expressed interest in recruiting workers from Trinidad and Tobago. He said the ministry is in advanced stages of negotiations with these companies.

He was speaking at a post-Cabinet news conference on Thursday at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s.

Mitchell said contrary to social media reports, no-one was turned away during the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s recruitment drives at the National Academy of the Performing Arts (NAPA) on Tuesday, the Southern Academy of the Performing Arts (SAPA) on Wednesday, and at the Shaw Park Complex in Tobago on Thursday.

“Everyone who attended was encouraged to leave their information at NAPA with the ministry personnel and it now forms part of a completed database. And people who are interested are encouraged to leave their information with the ministry. That is what occurred on Tuesday and Wednesday. I understand the process is going smoothly at Shaw Park and on Friday at NAPA, people are encouraged to give their names.”

He said hundreds of people received and accepted offers of employment, while others would be interviewed virtually on future dates.

He said he attended the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association Summit in Puerto Rico from June 1-3.

“A number of other cruise lines are interested in a labour force from TT, recognising internationally that we do have a high-quality labour force, so those are additional opportunities coming forward. They reached out to us at the conference.

“A number of cruise executives met with the TT team, I was a part of that team, and they have indicated an interest in hiring TT nationals. And we are at some advanced stages with respect to those discussions and very soon we will communicate with the public.

“We now have a database of potential employees looking for employment on the cruise ships, and we will put that database to work and we will ensure they have every opportunity to work at the cruise lines.”

He said the cruise ships were focusing on Caribbean nationals, with recruitment taking place in TT and Jamaica.

“TT was recognised for its high quality. They indicated they filled a number of niche positions that they find it difficult and hard to do otherwise. We have GATE right?”

Newsday understands the niche positions were jobs that not many people have the training to carry out, such as medical, etc.

Asked what he thought about covid19 safety aboard cruise ships, considering the reputation they had at the beginning of the pandemic, Mitchell said improvements had been made to ensure the safety of passengers and crew.

“The cruise lines have hired the best medical professionals, they have adjusted their entire ships, they have put in place new protocols where they have quarantine areas, they require testing before and during the time you’re on the ship. So they’re seen as completely safe and, as a consequence, the US Centers for Disease Control lifted their risk level.”

Mitchell said the opportunity was a tremendous one, especially for people who were employed in the travel industry and whose lives were disrupted as a consequence of the fallout of the pandemic, or people looking to engage in a change of career.

“People who work on the cruise ships earn a very decent wage and receive high-quality training and they are a part of a large multi-national world-renowned company. The ministry makes absolutely no apology, we are relentless in pursuing the gainful employment of our nationals. We are constantly looking for other opportunities and we will do whatever it takes to ensure people are put into gainful employment.”