SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Congratulations to The Sint Maarten Training Foundation (SMTF) – an independent, non-profit organization that served as a response to the hospitality industry and its employees post Hurricane Irma – completing its mission to provide training opportunities, industry certifications and other financial support, during one of the country’s hardest hit times.
SMTF was founded on December 22, 2017. The founders’ mission was to not only address the immediate concerns of lay-offs and the welfare of the employees of the largest economy on Sint Maarten, but to aid in the development of, and further advancements of professional skill sets, through integral, structural and educational programs, with courses enhancing career opportunities within Sint Maarten’s total workforce.
It was a dynamic idea that was initially supported by the Government of Sint Maarten through the initiative of the Dutch Representative, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs. Subsequently an application was made to Holland to fund, under the Dutch Recovery Plan, the continuance of the Academy with the criteria of training the unemployed and under employed as well as providing a Stipend, Transportation and Health Insurance coverage.
The SMTF curriculum included a number of areas in which students could obtain multiple certifications including, Hospitality 360 (overview as well as in-depth choice modules); Culinary Program (theory and practical); Casino Operations; History & Culture of St. Maarten (provided by USM); English as a Second Language (provided by USM); Construction Program, theory and practical, (provided by NIPA) and First Aid (provided by Samaritan’s purse). The organization’s mix of local and international staff and trainers were committed to providing critical knowledge to its students, but also served as inspiring role models.
All students received a stipend while attending the courses, kept their jobs and benefits with their original employers, received medical insurance and a transportation allowance to attend classes, while improving their knowledge and skills. SMTF also offered courses to many individuals outside the hospitality industry who lost their job post Irma, providing an opportunity into a new career path.
To date, SMTF is proud to have provided 5,184 certifications to over 2,381 students over the course of its operations.
While the Sint Maarten Training Foundation will cease operations as of May 31st, 2021, the founders, board of directors, committed staff and trainers are honored to have contributed to the resilient recovery of the island’s various industries, so vital to residents, the economy, and travelers’ the world over who come to enjoy our beautiful island country.
ABOUT HOSPITALITY FIRST
Hospitality First is an initiative developed by Sint Maarten Training Foundation (SMTF), an independent, non-profit organization created in December 2017. Hospitality First is an academy for professionals of Sint Maarten’s hospitality industry to acquire international Hotel Hospitality Certifications, Service Standards, Culinary Arts, Public Health, Food Safety, Leadership Skills, Customer Service and Personal Development through theoretical and practical hands-on experience. While also providing its enrolled students with basic financial means to support themselves and their families during the time it will take the tourism economy of St. Maarten to recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Irma.