HEART launches first workforce college, business incubator
HEART Trust/NTA has launched the first of its planned workforce colleges, which offer training and business incubator services with low rent facilities, equipment, and tuition assistance.
Jodine Williams, acting manager of the new HEART College of Beauty Services (HCBS), says that the college will continue to offer Level One to Four training depending on market demand, using a shift system to build capacity.
Launched March 30, the HCBS operates from the same location on Hope Road in Kingston as the original HEART School of Cosmetology - which the new college replaces - and has approximately 200 students on roll in varying programmes.
Level Four programmes include massage therapy, Level IV hairdressing, nail care, general beauty therapy, cosmetology, and barbering.
Williams said the business incubator programme can accommodate up to four clients for a period of six months to one year.
"Spa-therapy skills are now in high demand locally," she said, noting that the area was also one in which entrepreneurs could get the highest returns, with one-hour massages costing as much as J$6,000 per client.
Declining to discuss the fees that entrepreneurs would be charged to incubate, Williams said only that the funds earned would be insufficient to cover the cost of operations at the centre.
While the beauty college is expected to become self-supporting in the long term, it will continue to receive budget support from HEART Trust for now, Williams said.
HEART Trust receives its principal income of about J$5.31 billion annually through the mandatory three per cent levy on businesses. Fee income generated by the training agency is estimated at J$105 million annually.
HEART offers its technical and vocational education and training programmes through 10 academies providing sector-specific training, and 13 community-based training centres including the Jamaican-German Automotive School and the National Tool and Engineering Institute.
The transformation of centres into workforce colleges is intended to increase the local cohort of graduates who can operate their own businesses.
"We will provide a structured programme which will introduce internees and incubator users to practices in keeping with regulations and viability," said Williams.
"Each participant will also get a start-up kit for their business."
Incubated enterprises, said Williams, may use the facilities for up to two years if the college believes it necessary.
If imports to meet local demand are anything to go by, graduates of HCBS will be entering a resilient market.
Data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica show that the industry has bought products valued at around J$3-4 billion annually for the last three years, despite anecdotal reports of less being spent on salon services.
Imports of beauty products were valued at US$41 million in 2008, US$44.5 million in 2009, and US$47.55 million in 2010.
Williams told Sunday Business that while demand for low-end beautician skills had fallen, high-end skills such as spa services were on the rise.