13 Graduate From Diageo Sponsored Learning For Life Program Through UVI CELL

13 Graduate From Diageo Sponsored Learning For Life Program Through UVI CELL

FREDERIKSTED — Thirteen Virgin Islanders are ready for careers in the hospitality industry as graduates of the Diageo USVI Learning Skills for Life Program. Six St. Thomas students and seven on St. Croix completed the course and graduated recently.

Diageo USVI, in conjunction with UVI CELL, offered the free five-week course, which provided participants with the tools, training and skills needed to start a career in the hospitality industry.

Students were trained in customer service, bartending basics, communication and business etiquette, and also learned valuable life skills such as managing personal finances, working in a team environment, resume creation and interviewing techniques. The in-person course followed strict COVID-19 health guidelines. It was held simultaneously on St. Thomas and St. Croix.

Launched in the territory in 2010, the program provides unemployed and underemployed individuals with free basic employability skills, specialist training, and work experience within the hospitality industry.

“Our partnerships with the private sector are extremely valuable as they allow the University to expand our educational offerings in the service industry,” said Suzanne Darrow-Magras, director of UVI-CELL. “Our territorial economy is primarily service-based so our goal is to help the industry to meet the demand for skilled workers while empowering the individuals in our community with the tools and skills needed to go out and secure those jobs.”

During the program, participants — who are all of the legal drinking age — got intensive, hands-on training in bartending and hospitality to include business etiquette, customer service, and responsible drinking. Students also gained valuable life skills such as basics in managing personal finances, working in a team environment, resume creation, and interviewing techniques.

“We know how important it is to the territory’s economy to have a skilled workforce in the Virgin Islands, especially in industries that support tourism,” Erica J. Johnson, director of community relations for Diageo USVI, said. “We are eager to welcome another class of future hospitality professionals into our training program, and we look forward to how they will create new opportunities for themselves in an industry that is full of possibilities.”

To participate, individuals had to be between the ages of 18-35, be a resident of the USVI, not currently working as a professional bartender, and must have a serious interest in furthering their skills in the bartending and hospitality industry.

Classes were held from September 21 to October 23, on both St. Croix and St. Thomas. Classes were conducted in person and adhered to strict COVID-19 social distancing standards and precautionary safety measures.

While free to participants, the program is being underwritten by Diageo USVI and administered by UVI CELL, with support from Bellows International and the Virgin Islands Department of Labor.