Sun | Apr 21, 2019

Spanish Town skills training centre serving the community for 20 years

Published:Friday | November 9, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Manager for the St Catherine-based Spanish Town Skills Training Centre, Ruth James (right), in discussion with former students of the institution (from left) Muriel Grant and Rahiem Bailey, and current student Alexis Dixon.
Ruth James (left), manager for the St Catherine-based, Spanish Town Skills Training Centre, shares a moment with (from second left) student Alexis Dixon; and former students Rahiem Bailey, Francine McDonald Vassell, and Muriel Grant at an event held at the school recently.
Guardian Life Insurance agent Dillys Lobban (standing) engages students at the Spanish Town Skills Training Centre in St Catherine in a motivational talk.

For almost 20 years, the Spanish Town Skills Training Centre has been providing training for professionals, at-risk youth, non-certified and unskilled employees, and employers, in partnership with the HEART Trust/NTA.

Student at the institution, 19-year-old Alexis Dixon, has high praises for the opportunities being provided to her through the centre.

After leaving secondary school, Dixon faced several job rejections owing to the lack of employable skills, but with one year of training with the institution, she is now a permanent employee with a business establishment in Spanish Town.

She noted that not only was she provided with the training opportunities, but the centre also sought employment for her.

"I cannot give them enough money for what they did for me, or tell them a million thanks," she stated.

According to Dixon, the principal and instructors at the school make concerted efforts to impart knowledge to the students, while also sharing life experiences as a way of encouraging growth and development.

"It really motivated me to push forward," she added.

She also encourages young persons in and around the Spanish Town area to get their training at the centre.

"They should definitely come to the Spanish Town Skills Training Centre. Don't hide, it is really a great place; and if you want to move forward, that is the place that you can go," Dixon stated.

Early childhood development courses to be offered in January

Located at 56 Brunswick Avenue in Spanish Town, St Catherine, the Spanish Town Skills Training Centre offers training in areas such as commercial food preparation, levels one and two; and customer engagement at levels one and two. In January 2019, the school will offer courses in early childhood development.

For former student Raheam Bailey, he said he is grateful for the opportunity to have completed the level two programme in commercial food preparation, and the job that the institution assisted him to obtain. He shared that in the future, he hopes to become an executive chef.

Meanwhile, manager at the centre, Ruth James, stated that the vision to offer skills to youth from the area, and elsewhere, has been impactful.

"We have seen so many young persons whose lives have been changed, and they are doing very well, all over the world, in the hospitality industry, business process outsourcing, and at front desks at hotels. We are impacting a great number of persons," she reasoned.


James said that while the institution provides services primarily to students between the ages of 17 and 35 years, the school also continues to reach persons who are 35 and older.

She informed that on an average, 50 to 70 students are engaged in the day and evening programmes.

"We offer at least one month's work experience, and on most occasions these persons have gained permanent employment with the places where they are sent for work experience," the manager shared.

James lauded the HEART Trust/

NTA for providing training opportunities for young people to gain the necessary skills needed for the work environment.

"The standard of HEART Trust/NTA is international; you can go to most countries with their certificates and get a job," the manager stated.

'Once there is a need, we can't say no to them' - Pastor Johnson

The mission of the Spanish Town Skills Training Centre is to empower participants through goal-oriented activities within an environment that is safe and conducive to learning, while promoting respect of self and others, as well as developing a positive attitude towards work skills, academics, certification and assessment, as required by the HEART Trust/NTA.

In the meanwhile, president of the Central Jamaica Conference (CJC) of Seventh-day Adventists, Pastor Levi Johnson, who was a founding member of the centre in 1999, says the move to establish the school was in response to the needs of the communities in the area.

Pastor Johnson, who headed the Spanish Town Seventh-day Adventist Church at the time, shared that the establishment of the centre was a move to improve the quality of life for community members.

He said that the CJC provides resources to keep the institution going, and "once there is a need, we can't say no to them; because we know how relevant the skills training centre is. We see them as one of our key partners".

For community training interventions manager at the HEART Trust/NTA, Kevin Walker, institutions like the skills training centre help the training agency to meet their mandate.

For more information on the centre, persons can call (876) 984-3571, (876) 419-2249, or email: