Red Stripe's Learning for Life marks 10 years, 15,000 beneficiaries
An air of pride and celebration filled the Wolmer's Boys' School auditorium as more than 600 students graduated from the Red Stripe Learning for Life programme which celebrated its 10th anniversary.
Funded by the Desnoes & Geddes Foundation, the Learning for Life programme, in conjunction with the HEART Trust/National Training Agency (NTA), provides participants with skills training in hospitality, retail, entrepreneurship and bartending. The most recent cohort of students completed courses in various programmes including CXC Night Academy, Certified Bar, Project Employability, Project Merchandiser, Project Grow and Project Small Business Management.
"We always take every opportunity to assist young Jamaicans and Learning for Life is one of the primary vehicles we use to do that. Investing in the communities where we do business helps people enjoy and live better lives. Learning for Life is an innovative programme that proves that growing a successful business and doing good for others can be compatible, while fostering long-term sustainability," said Dianne Ashton-Smith, Red Stripe head of corporate affairs.
"For its 10 years of being a cause for good in Jamaica, Learning for Life continues to empower individuals to forge their own paths and become self-sufficient contributors to their communities and to society. Students feel a sense of achievement and empowerment when they complete each programme and are able to more confidently become economically independent, while providing for their families and their communities in a meaningful way," she added.
I feel privileged, says former student
As part of the Red Stripe Learning for Life programme's 10th anniversary celebration, five partners were inducted into the newly established Learning for Life Hall of Fame. The HEART Trust/NTA; M. Audrey Hinchcliffe, chairman and CEO of Manpower and Maintenance Services; Patrice White, managing director of Dynamic Lifestyle; as well as Ryan Mitto and Taje Samuels, founding partners of Well Skills Entertainment were all honoured for their significant contributions and collaborative work with the programme.
"I feel privileged to be one of the first inductees in the Learning for Life Hall of Fame and it feels good to gain this recognition," Ryan Mitto, former Project Bartender student of the 2013 cohort, now entrepreneur, said after receiving his plaque.
He continued: "Learning for Life opened my eyes to the possibilities in terms of a niche in the market. It showed me that it was the right time to bring a global style of bartending to the Jamaican scene."
Vehicle for growth
His business partner and former student of the same programme in the 2012 cohort, Taje Samuels, noted: "I am honoured to be recognised by the Red Stripe team in such a great way. I appreciate that Red Stripe always recruited me to lend support on many events which allowed me to use and improve on the skills I learned. I now have my own company, alongside Ryan, and we are looking forward to growth and more opportunities."
For valedictorian and Project Employability graduate Jonnalee Davis, the Learning for Life programme stood as a vehicle for personal growth and a platform to achieve greater things.
"In addition to employability skills, my courses focused on social media and personal development, among other things. Coming from the inner city, I did not let my circumstances define me, but I redefined what it meant to come from the inner city. I now believe that the opportunities are endless," Davis passionately expressed.
To date, the lives of more than 15,000 Jamaicans have been enriched by the Learning for Life programme, as the training they received has provided them with employment capabilities and opportunities to increase their earning potential. Red Stripe, along with government and training agencies, community leaders and other stakeholders, will continue to achieve an improved and sustainable programme.