The Sophia Training Centre (STC) is working to equip students with Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) certification that will improve their marketability.
Administrator Cardis Dick said, the institute’s move towards granting this certification will enable the students to gain employment anywhere in the Caribbean.
Dick explained to the Government Information Agency (GINA), that currently the centre operates as a technical institute and is moving towards offering Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) certification for the students to have at least a CVQ level one.
The centre, which falls under the purview of the Ministry of Education’s Culture, Youth and Sports Department, caters for youths between the ages of 16-25 years. Dick described the institution as different from others because it gives youths who didn’t get the chance to complete school, a second opportunity to move on to tertiary education at institutions such as the Government Technical Institute (GTI).
“Most times you find when persons are at other institutions; they may ask for Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) or a certification, we don’t ask for all of that. We just have an entrance exam to see what level they’re at and then we place them. We don’t turn away persons, we just place them in a skill area that they’re able to function in,” Dick underlined.
The Administrator pointed out that the STC has a senior training officer and 10 training instructors for every training area. “Because we’re moving to TVET, instructors will be trained, monies have been allocated in the 2017 budget to ensure that staff are trained and adequately equipped to move on to the CVQ level,” Dick explained.
The students at the STC benefit from daily hot meals, a stipend, monthly tours and extracurricular activities. These activities include drama, entrepreneurship and remedial Mathematics and English.
According to the Administrator, students are recruited through a number of activities. She said there are visits to schools to identify underachievers, and to communities to distribute brochures. However, most of the recruitments come from recommendations from former students.
A student of the centre, Wayne Hackshaw, said he is grateful to be given the opportunity to complete training in a specific field. His dream of becoming a chef and owning his restaurant is now closer. He said, “I’ve learned lots of stuff, I knew cooking certain things about cooking, but here taught me more stuff and improved my knowledge.”
Rohit Balkaran who hails from the East Coast Demerara said he likes welding and through the STC he is able to improve his welding skills and abilities. He said, “I want to become a successful water welder and this school is helping me. I want to encourage everyone to go after their dreams and make it a reality.”
The institution currently trains students in six skills areas; catering, welding and fabrication, refrigeration, masonry, plumbing, and Information Technology and Office Administration.
By 2018 one of the goals of the institution is to have cosmetology, interior designs and decorating added to the programme, Dick noted.