Over 100 ambitious and enterprising persons were given an invaluable opportunity for upliftment with courses in barbering, hairdressing and hairweaving offered through the ongoing partnership between the Youth Training and Employment Partnership Programme (YTEPP) and bp Trinidad and Tobago (bpTT).
Conducted in Beetham, Enterprise, Maloney, Palo Seco, Princes Town and Sangre Grande from February to September, participants had to undergo a final assessments following which they received Level Two Certificates with an accompanying Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ). Some of the assessments were conducted on the state-of-the-art cosmetology bus sponsored through the YTEPP-bpTT partnership.
Contextualising the initiative was Joel Primus, communications and advocacy advisor, bpTT, “We’ve partnered with YTEPP to offer these courses since 2018, and the results have been extraordinary. With hundreds of graduates since then, persons have been empowered to open their own businesses, get stable employment, or even supplement their incomes. This collaboration shows that where opportunities are created, excellence will follow. I want to congratulate the latest cohort of graduates and it’s great knowing that they have empowered themselves to achieve their dreams.”
Covering a range of in-demand skills including barbering, braiding and weaving, the participants were trained to handle not only technical requirements, but also the business and customer service aspects of these professions through life and business skills training.
According to Ophilea Grazette of Enterprise, Chaguanas, “I already had a job, but I decided to take this opportunity so that I could expand my capabilities. Over the past months I was exposed to many different skills as well as the tools and products associated with the trade. Beyond this though, they taught us concepts like business and money management, marketing, comportment, and customer service. At every step of this journey, YTEPP and bpTT were there to support us and having successful completed the training, it’s great to share this moment with them.”
Many of the participants were under the age of 30 and the highly interactive courses are taught by accredited industry professionals. Students were held to a high level of accountability in terms of aspects such as attendance, application of skills, coursework, and professional conduct.
YTEPP’s training specialist, Natalie Bishop, explained that the benefits of education and training were made more accessible through public-private sector partnerships. “Our partnership with bpTT is targeted towards communities that are usually defined as being ‘marginalised’. Because of inherent disadvantages including financial difficulties, the young people from these areas are sometimes unable to access these or any other courses. bpTT’s sponsorship means that we can create equitable access and prepare the participants for the world of work or entrepreneurship. Over the years, there have been many success stories and seeing the pride of accomplishment on their faces makes this all worthwhile.”
Before gaining certification, the student portfolios and final assessments are directly verified by the National Training Agency (NTA), which is responsible for the coordination and regulation of national technical and vocational education and training.
NTA officials, Nadia Lorick, Zorina Hosein and Carla Ramsaroop were on-hand to provide quality assurance in terms of ensuring that the syllabus is covered and verifying the CVQ accreditation. “Courses like these are nothing short of life-changing, and participants leave with professional certificates, which opens bigger doors to better futures. This is a steppingstone to local and international opportunities, and I applaud the partnership between YTEPP and bpTT for making this a reality,” Lorick explained.
The courses attracted a wide range of interest and spanned persons who were unemployed or underemployed to those who are looking for an additional means of earning income. The highly qualified and experienced barbering and hairdressing lecturers explained that they maintain contact with participants and witness first-hand the high levels of success enjoyed by past graduates. The lecturers also pointed out that past students have even gone on to inspire and teach others.
Intermingled in the programme are participants who have a different perspective altogether, being more focused on altruistic outcomes. An example of this is Michelle Quamina, who is a woman police constable with the Community Oriented Policing Section (COPS) of the Northern Division of the police service.
Successfully graduating from the Maloney-based barbering cohort, Quamina explained her story: “I’ve been in the service for the past 18 years and I joined because of a passion for helping people. This desire led me to volunteer at various police youth clubs, including the one here in Maloney, where YTEPP and bpTT hosted the barbering course. I signed up because I know the financial difficulties that parents face, and I will be offering free haircuts to young people. It is also a great way to connect with the youth and become a positive influence in their lives. I think that it’s very fitting that now I can help others because of the generosity of bpTT and YTEPP.”