Learning and earning through BIT training
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Some of the works done to date during the cake decorating training (Images courtesy of Ms. Kelie De Souza)
Some of the works done to date during the cake decorating training (Images courtesy of Ms. Kelie De Souza)

— 54 benefitting from cake decoration course

By Kellon Rover
WHEN thinking of things to do daily, most times, you will not put learning a new skill on your to-do list. But you could be missing out on something great, both personally and professionally.
Learning something new helps you grow as an individual, improves your knowledge base and gives you access to new and different opportunities. You can even potentially earn more money

Ms. Collette Hinkson

from learning a new and appropriate skill.  This is the goal of the PPP/C Government for every Guyanese, young and old, to ensure that they learn a lifelong skill from which they can obtain a comfortable livelihood and lifestyle. The government continues to provide training opportunities through the Ministry of Labour – Board of Industrial Training (BIT), with a host of new courses planned this year.  Currently, 54

Shantie Bunbury

persons are participating in a four-month cake decorating course at the Diamond Community Centre, East Bank Demerara.

Instructor, Ms. Kelie De Souza, told the Department of Public Information recently, that the training began on October 12, 2020, and classes are held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

In keeping with the COVID-19 protocols, she said 25 persons would attend the morning sessions while the remainder participates in the afternoons. Each session runs for three hours.

Basmattie Bridgemohan

Ms. De Souza explained that the lessons were taught in three stages: elementary, intermediate and advance. “At the elementary stage, we did mixing of the icing, we did shapes, how to make lines, scrolls, lattice, borders, how to cover a cake. During the intermediate classes, they learned how to cut different patterns to make character and novelty cakes.”
With just a few days remaining for a February 5 completion, the tutor said the group of women is now wrapping up the training’s advance aspect.
“Here is where we are doing wedding and drip cakes. I also taught them how to do different types of icing mixture. For example, we did the royal mixture, the buttercream. Right now, we are working with fondant.”

Kelie Desouza

Ms. De Souza said she is a happy Guyanese at this time. She adds that it has been a pleasure serving as an instructor to these ladies, and she is elated knowing that she has contributed positively to their lives. “I feel that what I have done for them will make them realise that there is a different way to earn and they can also save. I am excited because some of them started knowing nothing about making cakes, but now I can tell you that they are all very equipped and know exactly what to do and how to do it correctly. They have the will and the ability to work.”

Many of the participants have no regrets enrolling. Ms. Collette Hinkson, one of the participants, said she already has six orders lined up and that is her “side money” to assist with expenses.
A nursery school teacher for 28 years, Ms. Hinkson said she has always had a love for the art form and wants to explore its various aspects. “I have learnt different patterns and how to use different icing like buttercream. I also learnt how to use cake frosting,” she said. Learning how to make fondant is what caught her interest. However, the woman said previously, when she attended cake decorating courses, “it was like rushing into things. So, coming here, it allowed me to get into the nitty-gritty or the fine things so that you can get through the process easily.” Ms. Hinkson praised the initiative, saying she now has another job lined up after her retirement. For Ms. Shantie Bunbury, it was during the course that she made her first crumb coat and learned how to use a thimble and a forcing bag.

“What actually prompted me – I am not a person to do anything much with my hands; I am more into academics, but many times, we want to do stuff, and we have to pay. So, when I actually heard about it, I was elated. I came on board, and when I came here, I didn’t know anything. I only knew how to bake.” “Many times, we have persons that know how to do cakes, they know to use a thimble, but they do not know how to use a forcing bag. I’ve learnt these things, and I have mastered them today,” Ms. Bunbury added.
Another participant, Ms. Basmattie Bridgemohan, has started earning now that she has nearly completed the course. “Cake decorating is something I always wanted to learn,” she said, noting that she wants to start her own business when she finishes the training.

Meanwhile, the BIT continues to encourage persons to capitalise on the opportunity to learn a new skill and enroll in the courses.  Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton, has travelled to several communities countrywide to identify the training needs and the desires of residents. He explained that the programmes offered would provide residents with the skills and knowledge to improve their livelihoods and contribute to nation-building.  Some of the BIT courses include carpentry, masonry, electrical installation, cosmetology, catering, garment construction, information technology, mechanics and heavy-duty equipment operation. Minister Hamilton said the training is free and participants would be given a stipend to assist with their travelling expenses. Instructors are selected from the community where the course is being conducted.

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