Skills training programme opening doors for young people
After working for others as a bartender, Sushanna Donaldson, 33, of Gordon Pen, Spanish Town, St Catherine, changed her status about five years ago after she acquired a professional certificate in mixology.
Donaldson gained her certificate by participating in a youth development programme initiated by the member of parliament for St Catherine Central Olivia 'Babsy' Grange. Participants acquired functional skills and were certified through the HEART programme. Now Donaldson operates her own business, 'Pretty Girls Team', along Gordon Pen Boulevard.
"Right now I feel good having this certificate. I can go out and apply for jobs in hotels and even overseas employment. This is really a powerful certificate in the mixology field because we are also trained in customer relations and how to manage our stock," Donaldson stated. "Right now I can mix any drink, know what to put with what."
"This is one of the best initiatives I have ever seen because it brings the skills training and certification to us knowing that some of us don't have the money to step out of the community to be trained," Donaldson added. She said that she has always loved the bar business and is determined to grow her spot that she was able to establish because someone who had the place before ran into problems and couldn't sustain it.
Grange said that it was important for her to empower the young people by ensuring that they are certified in their given fields, so she collaborated with the Tourism Product Development Company, J Wray & Nephew, and HEART to provide training and certification for bartenders in her constituency.
"These mixologists are in a unique category in that they are part of a pool who will be called on from time to time to do major events like carnivals and other events. They are not ordinary bartenders anymore, they are trained in the art of mixing drinks," Grange emphasised. She pointed out that training and certification is also available for welders, carpenters, electricians and persons with other skill sets.
Donaldson, meanwhile, is imploring other young people in the community to take advantage of the opportunity to acquire a skill and be certified, opining that it will be a game-changer for them.