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Skilled Jamaicans compete internationally

Avia Collinder
Career coordinator

Eighteen-year-old Sashamoi Battick started her love affair with in cosmetology at Central High School in May Pen, where she says, 10th-grade teacher, Sharon Bissasor, motivated her class to believe that a career in this field was as meaningful as any other.

"She said a lot of persons were thinking that cosmetology was just about combing hair, but it is much more than that. It involves the knowledge and understanding of hair care. Our skill is a very important one and always in demand. I have gotten to love it."

Today, Battick, a student of the HEART Trust/NTA School of Cosmetology in Kingston, is one of several skilled Jamaicans who may be chosen for the international Worldskills competition, promoted locally by the HEART Trust/NTA.

Worldskills competition

The WorldSkills competition tests a range of industrial and service skills among participants in training institutions around the world. From the local segment, winners go on to the international competition.

Hoping to collect medals for Jamaica, Battick has entered the 2009 WorldSkills contest, the international finals for which will be held from August 25 to September 10 this year, in Calgary, Canada.

Other entrants include men and women in the fields of web design, network support, tiling and cooking.

In 2008, 20-year-old Donovan Mitchell, a Portmore HEART Academy graduate in construction from Seaview Gardens in Kingston, won gold in the Jamaica national skills competition. He also plans to go on to the international competition,

Donovan, at 20, is already a tiling contractor who employs five other persons.

WorldSkills International is a non-profit organisation that promotes exchange and comparison of world-class competency standards in industrial skills and service disciplines.

In Jamaica, WorldSkills was established in 2002 and was accorded full membership in WorldSkills International in May 2004. Jamaica has since had three national skills competition - in November 2003, March 2005 and April 2008.

The country made history when it became the first Caribbean nation to participate in the WorldSkills International competition in Helsinki, Finland, in 2005. Jamaica also fielded competitors in the WorldSkills International competition held in Japan in November 2007.

When WorldSkills Jamaica Training programme was launched October 4-5, 2008, more than 20,000 patrons went to see over 500 competitors from 82 institutions across Jamaica showcasing their skills in 47 areas.

Sashamoi Battick is looking forward to the competition: "I am excited about the WorldSkills competition. I have the great belief that we will do our best and come back with many medals in every area. Everyone is working so hard. We believe in ourselves. It's a wonderful experience and exposure. Young persons are getting the chance to showcase their skills."

Caring for people

About her career choice, she says, "It allows me to bring out beauty in myself and others. I love to comb hair and give massages. I am taking care of people just like doctors and nurses do."

Battick plans to become a teacher in her chosen subject area. With a distinction in the subject at the NCTVET and a City and Guilds Level II pass, she plans to go on to the Vocational Training Development Institute. Battick has embarked on what she believes will be a lifelong pursuit.


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