JIS News

When Adlyn Astley landed a job at the new Tastee Patties location in May Pen in May, she had no idea that within a month, she would have risen from cook to supervisor, to now being the assistant manager of the establishment.
While some may credit her meteoric rise to pure good luck, the young wife and mother attributes it to hard work and the strong foundation laid, through her participation in the Jamaica 4-H Club’s Home Economics Skills Training programme.
“The 4-H training institute is a very good place for any young person, who would want to acquire the skill of food preparation, because other than just being NCTVET (National Council on Technical Vocational Education and Training) qualified after you’re finished, it carries you on field trips where you learn more about food preparation (and) you do dishes for various functions.”
She notes also, that with the training, “you get the opportunity to do some of the catering and it helps to mold you. The 4-H does not only teach you to go out into the world of work but it also helps you so that you can go and be self employed. and to help you further on in life and .this certification has helped me very fast in obtaining a job,” she says.
The humble 39-year-old, who is wife to Jack and mother of 17-year old Alvaroe and Jackeecia aged 10, says she derives great satisfaction from preparing delectable dishes. She also loves to interact with people and considers that the combination of these two passions has helped in her profession.
She confesses to having developed a love for the food industry, through visiting the bakeries owned by some of her relatives during her early adult years and later doing short courses in food preparation. She points out however, that unlike the 4-H programme, these courses were not very comprehensive and did not offer certification.
Though now enjoying the success of participating in the training, Mrs. Astley says that but for her persistence, she might not have completed the course.
She recalls that the first time she attempted to register, she was told that training had already commenced and was again disappointed on her next enquiry as the programme was suspended for renovations to the training centre. She was late in registering on the third occasion, but finally enlisted in August 2004, for the 12-week programme.
The effects of Hurricane Ivan in September, resulted in the training being extended beyond the 12-week period, but Mrs. Astley remained committed to the course and excelled to become valedictorian at the graduation ceremony held in January 2005.
She gives a lot of credit to Sylvia Porteous, Home Economics Trainer with the 4-H Club, whom she says spends endless time with her charges giving them solid information and who spends from her own pocket to provide students with material to do practical work. “She believed in me and she’s always telling me that I’m going to be the cream of the crop and today I’m very grateful to her,” she says.
Now a tutor at the centre, Mrs. Astley says she relishes the opportunity to pass some of her own knowledge and ideas of the food preparation industry to the students.
Of her aspirations in the industry, Mrs. Astley says, “the sky’s the limit.” She plans to expand her small catering business and “I would love to have the opportunity to pass on some of the skills I’ve learnt to others.”
Executive Director of the Jamaica 4-H Club Lenworth Fulton says the movement helps persons to realize their potential by providing them with necessary skills.
He notes that 95 per cent of the 229 young people, who have benefited from training since the Club re launched its skills training programmes in 2001, have been able to gain employment.
“In 2001, we re-started the training programme including the tractor, home economics and food and hospitality management training programmes and we did a course in citrus management. In 2001we graduated eight persons, in 2002, we stepped up (and) graduated 38 persons and in 2003, we graduated 50 persons and in 2005, we graduated 133 persons, which makes the total number to be 229, 95 per cent of whom have been successful in gaining employment,” he informs.
The trainees have been able to gain employment in restaurants and hotels or are self-employed while others have found work as tractor and heavy equipment operators in the sugar and bauxite industries as well as at the island’s seaports.
Mr. Fulton says that the 4-H movement has fostered the development of some 65,000 clubbites across Jamaica in 650 schools and 25 church and community clubs.
The home economics course is carried out at the Denbigh Training Centre in Clarendon and is offered to persons 18 years and older.
It incorporates training in floral arrangement and food preparation, small business management, loan access, and fire safety in the kitchen. It costs about $4,500 per person and classes are held in the evenings and on weekends. There is a residential option for out of town participants.
Plans are in place to initiate an upholstery and woodcraft training programme at the Denbigh facility this year.