While construction crews work toward a delayed opening for the Baha Mar mega-resort in Nassau, work of quite another sort is on pace.
Baha Mar launched several educational and training programs, aimed at creating employment opportunities for Bahamians at the resort complex and within the hospitality industry at large.
The eight-week Summer Dream Team Association program is a student internship program, geared to different educational levels.
Participants in the Junior Jet-Setter program for high school students explore areas such as environmental planning and sustainability, creative art, marketing and finance.
Recent college graduates in the Jet-Setter program explore specific workplace skills, including time management and the service standards of the resort brands at Baha Mar.
"These students are the future of the Bahamian hospitality industry," said Baha Mar COO Paul Pusateri. "And the internships show them that with the right attitude and an aptitude for service, they can have a career in hospitality regardless of their area of study."
Denise Godreau, Baha's Mar chief marketing officer, described another innovation, Baha Mar's new Leadership Development Institute (LDI), as "a transformative program designed to help Bahamians from every island community learn valuable skills and enhance their job opportunities."
She added: "This unprecedented program is redefining service in the Bahamas and delivering it in an authentic way that will exceed our guests' expectations."
More than 3,000 people applied for the 600 spots available in the first LDI class, which graduated on May 27.
The second class will graduate in mid-August.
LDI Executive Director Jeffrey Lloyd said, "Baha Mar is literally a lifesaver, rescuing families from depravation and despondency. That's what I hear when I speak to the students and go out into the communities."
LDI has evolved even further through its partnership with Best Buddies, an international volunteer program founded in 1989 that helps train and create job opportunities for those with intellectual and developmental disorders (IDD).
Each IDD student is paired with a Best Buddy for the duration of the 16-week LDI session. Those who complete the program receive a job offer at Baha Mar.
Four IDD students, each of whom is paired with a Best Buddy, are part of the roster that makes up the third LDI class, which began July 21 and will graduate in early November.
"The Best Buddies program extends the economic impact of Baha Mar to people with disabilities, to enable them to become more integrated into mainstream society," Godreau said. "Everyone can be a part of the Baha Mar Dream Team if they have a heart for hospitality."
Follow Gay Nagle Myers on Twitter @gnmtravelweekly.