A section of the audience at the event.
CAY HILL–The Belair Community Center was filled to capacity on Friday, January 31, as family members watched two hundred forty-eight students receive their certificates from the six-month hospitality and culinary courses given by the Sint Maarten Training Foundation (SMTF).
This was the single largest group to have graduated to date. SMTF runs the Emergency Income Support and Training Programme (EISTP), which is financed by the government of the Netherlands, managed by the World Bank and implemented by the National Recovery Programme Bureau (NRPB).
EISTP caters to persons who are unemployed or underemployed (working less than 20 hours per week). The enrolled students, who meet the minimum attendance rate requirement receive financial support (stipend) for attending classes and successfully completing the programme as well as medical coverage through Social and Health Insurances SZV, in addition to a small transportation allowance.
In addition to the hospitality and culinary certificates, 107 students earned the coveted American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) Customer Service Gold certification and 91 culinary students received the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Food Handlers Certificates. The latter certificate is a legal requirement for all persons working in the culinary industry in Sint Maarten.
In his congratulatory speech on behalf of the NRPB, Programme Manager Thijn Laurensse said NRPB was happy to contribute to the EISTP programme because it touched the lives of so many people. Since its inception the programme has welcomed approximately 1,800 un- and under employed persons to the hospitality, culinary and construction courses.
SMTF is also making connections with the business community to bring enrolled students in contact with potential employers.
Director of Human Resources at the Maho Group Anne Marie Burke was on hand to deliver the keynote address. She spoke to students about what employers are looking for in new recruits. Burke shared her personal story of starting out in Jamaica as a 19-year-old single mother at the bottom of the corporate ladder and rising to the top of the airline and hotel industries. “How far you get is all up to you. You need to create a champion attitude and be a good team player. Those are among the top characteristics that employers are looking for today,” she informed graduates.
In closing the official part of the graduation ceremony, SMTF’s Deputy Programme Director Deborah Canale thanked all the entities that contributed to the success of the EISTP and recognised two local businesses – Caribbean Brewing Company in Point Blanche and US Laundry in Cay Bay – for hosting many students on field trips to view their operations and create job opportunities for graduates.
EISTP is the only social programme in the country that provides direct financial support to participants in the form of a biweekly stipend.
Persons wishing to participate must register at the Labour Department. Criteria such as legal status in Sint Maarten, level of (un)employment and residency are used to determine eligibility. Once eligibility has been established by the Labour Department, the applicant is referred to SMTF to complete the enrolment process. Interested persons may contact the Labour Department or call SMTF at tel. 520-7574 for more information.
SMTF is located at the Hillside Christian Schools’ Asha Stevens Campus in Cay Hill. There are currently 1,100 students enrolled in the Emergency Income Support and Training Program and the student body is a reflection of the multi-ethnic composition of Sint Maarten, it was stated in a press release on Tuesday.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/record-number-of-graduates-from-hospitality-training-prog