New graduates from the Desnoes and Geddes (D&G) Foundation Learning for Life programme are celebrating their official foray into the world of professional bartending following the completion of the course's practical and theoretical certification process.
The graduates are currently engaged in short-term internships while they receive career planning advice and support to find long-term employment.
Majesty Gardens resident Shanete Barrocks is among the interns expressing high hopes for the next chapter of her career. The 25-year-old had been unemployed at home when a friend told her about Learning for Life and encouraged her to sign up for the course which is administered in collaboration with the HEART Trust/NSTA. Five weeks later, she ended the programme as one of the group's top performers.
"I am grateful for this opportunity. I am leaving this programme with a qualification I can use to get full-time employment at so many places. Now that I have proven I have what it takes to become certified, I choose not to limit myself. While I look at the next step, I am open to all opportunities that may come for me. This programme has been a great experience, especially the practical training. I hope to build on what I learned here by taking a more advanced course to better prepare me for the world of work," said Barrocks.
Another intern, 27-year-old Akeem Jones from Hughenden, St Andrew, has had a deep interest in bartending for several years. Having had the opportunity to work at bars and restaurants in Jamaica and Manhattan in New York, he joined the programme with a goal to receive certification and open an establishment focused on herbal-infused beverages and pastry.
"There is a strong focus now on consuming products infused with natural products for health and wellness. This area has become very lucrative globally and has also caught on in Jamaica, so I see it as a good business opportunity for me. I am very passionate about this field because I see it as more than just mixing drinks; it is an opportunity to provide excellent service and build a brand that makes people come back for more. I want people to come to my store, relax with friends, unwind after work, or even read a book and enjoy the experience," said Jones.
HEART instructor Suzette Messam, who conducted the practical training element of the five-week course, proudly noted that all 14 trainees from the class made it through to the finals and had all performed well in the course.
"All the students were driven by the opportunity to become certified because they recognise the value that qualification holds in the job market. I am happy to say that despite any challenges that have come up, all the students have made a solid effort to grasp the material taught during the course. Some students are eager to enter the working world after graduation, while others want to gain more qualifications before looking for a job; the critical part is that they are all leaving here with a positive outlook and plans for their professional development," said Messam.
In addition to the programme's practical elements, Learning for Life bartending students also receive training on professionalism, customer service, costing and pricing, budgeting, and workplace safety. The D&G Foundation is aiming to provide bartending, customer service and merchandising training to 1,500 unattached youth through the Learning for Life programme this year.