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    Story Highlights

    • By the end of December, 80 residents of Spanish Town, St. Catherine, will become certified cosmetologists when they graduate from a training initiative being undertaken in collaboration with the HEART Trust/NTA.
    • The initiative, dubbed the Business, Education, Sports and Scholarships and Training (BEST) programme, is the brainchild of Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, who is also Member of Parliament for Central St. Catherine, which includes Spanish Town.
    • The programme also provides training for other uncertified tradespeople, including bartenders, welders and auto mechanics.

    By the end of December, 80 residents of Spanish Town, St. Catherine, will become certified cosmetologists when they graduate from a training initiative being undertaken in collaboration with the HEART Trust/NTA.

    The initiative, dubbed the Business, Education, Sports and Scholarships and Training (BEST) programme, is the brainchild of Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, who is also Member of Parliament for Central St. Catherine, which includes Spanish Town.

    The programme also provides training for other uncertified tradespeople, including bartenders, welders and auto mechanics.

    Addressing a meeting of the Rotary Club of Spanish Town at the Police Officers’ Club in St. Andrew on Tuesday (October 15), Ms. Grange said the programme is in keeping with efforts to spur the growth of Spanish Town and its environs by empowering residents through training and educational initiatives that will enable them, through their own endeavours, to contribute to the development of their communities.

    “What I find in Spanish Town [is that] more people want to learn, and more people want to be occupied in a productive way,” the Minister said.

    She noted that with certification in cosmetology, the participants can “either set up their little business in the community or they can go and get a job as a hairdresser or as a nail technician”.

    Ms. Grange said such training initiatives are integral to the revival of Spanish Town, which, she said, has suffered from a lack of investment over the years, which has made it difficult for residents to survive, especially after factories closed and people lost jobs.

    “We have done very well in lifting the standard of young people and motivating them to aspire to greater heights,” she said.

    The Member of Parliament said the bartending course under the training programme is to begin soon, after a suitable location is identified to set up the facility.

    “If we don’t find a bar in a suitable location, we are going to set up a bar at the Prince Avenue Community Centre. We will do the training there and we will also do the training in Gordon Pen. We will turn out bartenders who will be certified, and in certifying them, we will also seek job opportunities for them,” Ms. Grange informed.

    She informed that in August this year, she arranged with HEART Trust/NTA, through its mobile unit, to undertake a one-day certification programme for uncertified tradespeople in Spanish Town, where they were tested, graded and certified.

    Turning to the area of education, Ms. Grange said she is particularly keen on assisting young people in the constituency with their educational pursuits. She said she was encouraged by the fact that there are more young people in Spanish Town and its environs matriculating to tertiary institutions than ever before in the history of Spanish Town.

    “I make it my duty to find a way to assist them…at the basic-school, primary-school, and high-school levels. I assist students with their books. They get a minimum of $10,000 in vouchers,” she said.

    The Minister said she provides assistance through fundraising activities, allocation of funds from the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), as well as seek scholarships from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.

    In addition, help is provided for individuals who have dropped out of school to be re-entered into a programme.

    “Education and training is important for economic development, because now these people are able to earn, to be independent and to do things to better their lives,” she said.