‘Statia Serves’ social skills to woman catering students

Many communicative smiles from catering students in a group photo with Coach Arlene Timber-Henry (standing centre), Carol Jack (front row left) and Francine Foe (far right).

ST. EUSTATIUS–“Communication is about sharing,” says Arlene Timber-Henry, who is currently running an eight-week course in providing social skills for women who are catering students, ages 19 to 40-plus.

“If you do not have the right communication skills in your job, then perhaps you should learn them or find a more suitable job.” This may sound a bit harsh, but Timber-Henry has been polishing up social skills throughout the Caribbean for the last 11 years. Part of the adult education programme, designed by New Challenges Foundation (NCF), the course embraces interpersonal skills, self-empowerment and general communication. “We have all met workers who really have no idea how to smile, socialize or create customer satisfaction,” says Timber-Henry.

“Our lessons are about learning for earning. We put students in real-life work situations and see how they interrelate in such roles. It is all about serious fun, but we certainly massage their social behaviour to create quality on-the-job service.

“Smartphones and Facebooking may be fine for social networking, but they can never replace the social face-to-face situations in life. In catering, as in many other jobs, it requires listening and learning carefully about customer needs.”

Director of New Challenges Foundation Francine Foe agrees. “Our social communication segment plays a vital role in our job-training programme. The saying, ‘You are never too old to learn’ is true, especially when it comes to communicating in the workplace and with customers.”

The job-training programme is called “Statia Serves” and is spearheaded by the Island Government and funded through the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment. It will run for eight months, and is facilitated by New Challenges Foundation where the social skills are concerned and by Gwendoline van Putten School for competency.

The hospitality sector is providing internship for the participants. Successful completion of the course could result in a job placement for participants.

Maxine Spanner and Nadine de Graf of the Department of Labour are the coordinators of the job-training programme. The Department aims to have several training programmes throughout the year.

“Education is as much about public health as wealth. Having on-island training and coaching courses is economically sound and a lot better than importing such skills and talents. We now have some excellent home-grown and ‘Statia Made’ job seekers on the market. We wish them all professional success and above all, a communicative future,” said Director of Social Wellbeing Carol Jack.

Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/75424-statia-serves-social-skills-to-woman-catering-students