A new group of one hundred and eleven tourism professionals gained practical and progressive tourism skills as part of the Barbados Employment and Sustainable Transformation (BEST) programme.
Facilitated by a partnership between the National Transformation Initiative (NTI) and the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology (SJPI), the training opportunity included 15-week programmes in Electric Vehicle Maintenance Fundamentals, Photovoltaic Installation 1, Photovoltaic Electrical Installation, Cake and Pastry Making, Landscape Gardening and Plumbing for Homeowners.
Pride and excitement were heard in the voices of the tourism professionals and programme facilitators who gathered for a virtual graduation ceremony on Monday, July 25, to celebrate the completion of skills training.
In his remarks, Principal of SJPI, Ian Drakes, noted that out of the 115 applicants, the majority selected Cake and Pastry Making, with students attaining B grades and higher, followed by Landscape Gardening and Plumbing for Homeowners.
“This display of interest was very heartening since many of these individuals have not been in a classroom for years, and I’m sure many of them were apprehensive to do so, but the strength of the human spirit and the determination to succeed is a wonderful thing”, Drakes said.
“We are extremely proud of your performance and tremendously impressed by the level of diligence you exhibited while with us… Your performance is a good indicator that this initiative has the ability to grow and satisfy the purpose for which it was designed”, he expressed.
Director of the NTI, Dr. Allyson Leacock, warmly congratulated the graduates on their success. Having seized this opportunity to make themselves better, she urged them to commit to being on the cutting-edge in their area of interest, to be leaders in their fields, to embrace online learning and to ensure that they include under-served groups of the population, such as people with disabilities in their service offerings.
“Our partnership with SJPI for the BEST programme signals our intention to always work in partnership with others to complement and not compete with their work. The progressive courses like PV and EV that align with our national priorities, combined with the more traditional courses like cake and pastry making, plumbing and landscape gardening, reflect an inclusiveness and a variety that says NTI has something for everyone”, Dr Leacock said.
In heart-warming testimonials delivered through an Open Mic segment of the ceremony, students attested to the engaging and practical nature of the courses. Among them was Laura Charles from Sea Breeze Beach House. She said, “My experience was wonderful. I am happy I did Landscape Gardening because I have the ability and knowledge to grow my own food.”
On Photovoltaic Installation, a progressive course, Glenn Belgrave from Island Caterers said, “I went into the course not knowing anything about it; some of my co-workers encouraged me to do the course. It was fun, I came out with a high mark and learned a lot, so I’m thankful for that.”
George Lowe from Hilton Barbados proved that a person could commit to lifelong learning and upskill at any age. He completed Cake and Pastry Making and Plumbing for Homeowners. “It was invigorating for me as an elderly person to be around young people who want to impact their society with this NTI programme. I found it great that I could do these programmes at this age… I hope we can all go another step by doing another NTI programme”, he remarked.
The graduates were encouraged to continue their training online by Master of Ceremonies and NTI Assistant Director, BEST, Implementation & Strategic Partnerships, Raphael Saul, where they could study at their convenience without taking time off work. NTI Coursera grants access to hundreds of courses for Barbadians. With a dedicated Tourism Academy on training.nti.org.bb, graduates were inspired to blend their recent face-to-face learning with online courses.
The BEST programme was created as Government’s response to support the tourism sector during the social and economic impacts of COVID-19. BEST training for the Tourism Sector is anchored in the NTI, and is designed to facilitate the development of a world-class Barbados tourism product through creative re-engagement of the tourism workforce.
This graduation showcased upskilled tourism professionals from twelve businesses: the Barbados Beach Club, O2 Beach Club and Spa, Sea Breeze Beach House, Hilton Barbados Resort, Mango Bay Hotel, Atlantis Submarines, Courtyard by Marriott, BC Hightide Watersports, Infinity on the Beach, The Boatyard, Blue Horizon Hotel, and Ocean 15 Hotel.