US Virgin Islands Hotel & Tourism Association

On May 7, a few USVIHTA members attended a USVI Department of Labor meeting that focused on how best to prepare workers in the VI for current and near future positions in the territory post storms. Based on feedback from the meeting, the conversation and information was exactly the qualitative data the DOL needs to begin to structure its State Workforce Plan and also possibly get into future workforce projects.

A common thread in the discussion signified the VI tourism industry is ready to rebuild and restructure its product and market, and in the next three to five years, expectations are our brand will have added value and take its place in ranking excellent in the market. Additionally, the information and discussion has enlighten us to some of the challenges in the industry.

In the interim, the DOL feels that a continued focus on workforce upgrading and retooling must occur, and the department wants to become a leverage to members through its programs, collaboration, and strategy on the ground floor.

As the department prepares its State Workforce Plan for the next few program years, member participation will give guidance to how the DOL needs to structure the workforce plan for the Virgin Islands and more specifically how the department can get the tourism pipeline prepared to meet your specific needs. USVIHTA members are invited to participate and contact the DOL with their specific needs or concerns. As the tourism sector rebuilds and rebrands, our hospitality emanates from the workforce.

Once the department has prepared the plan and it goes through the legal process of open commentary, the DOL plans to share it.

James Dixon, CFO/CTO of the St. Thomas Restaurant Group, noted several reoccurring themes which stood out, including the 3-5 year timeline; affordable housing for employees; difficulties attracting employees when there are higher paying construction jobs available; and the need for skilled culinary employees possibly trained via a two year vocational culinary degree at the University of the Virgin Islands.

“I felt this was a great first step in addressing the upcoming employment needs of the territory,” Dixon said.