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Please, come and learn to earn

Retreat Skills Training Centre wants more young people

Observer staff reporter

Monday, September 18, 2017

The people who manage Retreat Skills Training Centre in St Mary have one major problem — not enough young people are making use of the facility.

In fact, the centre's treasurer, Samuel Bowen, in a recent interview with the Jamaica Observer, issued a plea for young Jamaicans, particularly those living in Retreat district, to enrol and equip themselves with skills that can help them make a living.

“All programmes are market-driven,” Bowen explained. “If programmes are no longer market-driven, they are dropped. You don't train people to go and sit down at home — you want them to be employed.”

Bowen said that in the past the centre offered training in cosmetology and office administration, but those programmes were dropped when the job market became saturated.

According to Necekeda Campbell-Hyde, coordinator at the centre, training is now offered in hospitality services, commercial food preparation, and food and beverage restaurant service. All courses are offered at level two.

“We target both community and outside persons… however, it is a community intervention project, so [there is more focus on] community members,” Campbell-Hyde said.

“We try to make it as practical as possible, with an assimilating environment,” she said. “They usually get employment quickly and they are able to keep their jobs.”

In an effort to promote the centre, Campbell-Hyde said, “The environment is very conducive to learning. It's cool and relaxing.”

When the centre was opened in the 1970s by George Coore and his wife, it offered training in carpentry and sewing to people from the community. It has since grown, and its training programmes are certified by the HEART Trust/NTA.

The training centre is operated by Trinity Evangelical Ministries, which takes care of the physical plant through a partnership with the Lott Carey foreign mission convention in the United States.

Bowen noted that some people in Retreat have gone to other areas to seek skills training. However, he gave the assurance that his staff are fully qualified and competent in the skills they teach.

“These are degree-trained teachers,” Bowen boasted.

He said the centre, which currently has 61 students, will embark on a drive to attract more youth from the community.

According to Campbell-Hyde, one of the benefits of studying at Retreat Skills Training Centre is that at the end of the courses, students are engaged in a programme to help them determine how ready they are for the world of work.

“They do interviews with persons in the different industries. Some persons have been able to gain employment through that programme,” Campbell-Hyde explained.

Bowen interjected, adding that students are also trained in entrepreneurship, computer skills, computation, language and communication, and personal development.

He said that Trinity Ministries is in the process of doing major renovation of the property, and expressed hope that other courses can be offered when the work is completed.

The renovation will add to new blocks that were constructed by the Discovery Service Project.

Bowen also said that Trinity Ministries would like to see more children from the community attending Trinity Basic School, which is located at the property. That would most likely give further boost to its vocational bible school held every summer for children and adults from the community.

“That is when we know we have a lot of people living here,” Bowen said, pointing out that it usually attracts a large turnout.

Trinity also hosts health fairs at the centre, and Bowen reminds that the group has a welfare programme from which students can benefit.