The Impact of Not Having the Right ICT Skills

first_imgThe shortage of quality ICT skills has been a recurrent theme in Liberia. Highly specialized skills required to automate processes are currently lacking and impossible to recruit anywhere in the country. This issue has several dimensions: a nation that is losing the war on illiteracy due to a failed educational system; a totally emasculated national labor market; other bearings of years of a 14-year civil unrest; and our unwillingness to embrace ICT as a significant driver of economic development and growth. And this shortage put to you, is strongly in software design, programming, project management and software business consulting. The following paragraphs is a discussion  the lack of ICT skills in Liberia.We have reached a stage when new breeds of ICTs continue to emerge. Advancements in computing paradigms: social computing, big data, business analytics, unified communications, mobile computing, cloud computing, and all other technologies require resetting the design and architecture of applications and user interfaces. The only response to these changes is the strengthening of human capacity across what we now have as an ICT sector, enhancing the skills and competencies of existing and potential members. Such an initiative will foster innovation, growth and enhance the capacity of companies and individuals to compete on a level playing field with the foreign competition.The ICT skills shortage in Liberia, specifically in the area of computer programming concerns me a lot because computer science and software engineering significantly impact business automation. Business automation or automation as a whole is becoming or has already become the paradigm in the global economy. Visit many of our ministries and other entities and you will find out that many of the ICT Staff have never attended any ICT training or human capacity strengthening program since they graduated school. This particularly hurts their ability to innovate and perform because in ICT, things change faster than any other area. Remember “Moore’s Law?” The worst part about this is that there are not many ICT institutions in Liberia that provide the types of high quality skills needed for Liberian ICT professionals to work in “real” datacenters or ICT environments.For example, assemble a group of ICT professionals in Monrovia; then ask them about certain technologies… say, Open Source Software or Cloud Computing. You would be astonished at the responses you would get. While this is not their fault, it presents a serious problem for the advancement of our ICT sector and our economy. Why is this a problem for our economy? Well, the viral or widespread adoption of cloud computing, mobility and other technologies have driven fundamental changes in ICT paradigms. While we continue to struggle embracing ICT integration in Liberia, other countries have leapfrogged unto newer technologies that open possibilities for the development and growth of their economies. For example, the MTN Group, of which Lonestar Cell is a member, has been a driver if not a pioneer, of innovative technologies in Africa. Last year, (April 2013), MTN began the delivery of Cloud Computing Services in Ghana and Nigeria. It launched its “bouquet” of Cloud services in those countries and subsequently proceeded to the Cote d’Ivoire in August of 2013; an extension of that “bouquet” of Cloud services. The company plans to launch Cloud services in other markets including Uganda, Cameroon, and South Africa. These Cloud services being provided “enable business automation tools to enterprises across professional services, micro-finance, health and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sectors.”Anyone with a vision will agree with me that it is just a matter of time for Lonestar to begin delivering Cloud services in Liberia; a service I would have liked to see LIBTELCO provide. Yet, it requires highly skilled ICT professionals to run a Cloud Computing environment and as I said earlier, that’s something we are colossally lacking. So, what happens when Lonestar or Cellcom decides to start providing these services?  Obviously, those companies will be constrained to seek the needed skills elsewhere, thus hurting our economy. How does it hurt our economy? When foreigners are brought to do jobs that Liberians should be doing, there’s capital flight… I would assume!Many ICT professionals know that cloud computing is a given. It is now the key enabler for other disruptive technologies like social and mobile computing. Though cloud computing has become mainstream, many countries are still in the early stages of adoption. Liberia is not among those countries yet.  And even if we have the infrastructure now to enable adoption, there is a possibility that we will be affected by the mounting skills crisis.The problem is not that ICT professionals do not want to improve themselves. The problem is that the focus of their leaders is someplace else. For instance, in some organizations when the leader’s laptop is connected to the Internet where he or she can gain access to email, online news and Facebook, then it’s all good. Meanwhile, many of the processes in that building remain antiquated, although there’s a budget for ICT. Speaking of budget, another thing that hinders ICT infusion in Liberian organization is their willingness to spend their entire budget on “Scratch cards” and ignore other important aspects of ICT, such as training. How does this help ICT infusion?The point I am trying to make is that it is time we place focus on building human capacity for ICT to enable us enjoy the benefits it provides. And this should not only be about building large ICT schools, or adding to universities’ and colleges’ programs. It’s about ministers and directors investing in their ICT staff; high schools introducing ICT programs, businesses providing ICT scholarships, competitions and internship, and ICT professionals taking on the responsibility of educating themselves using the vast resources available on the Internet.Also, universities and colleges need to collaborate with government and businesses to determine their needs and those of the economy’s. Through surveys, interviews and other research approaches, they will be able to garner the types of information needed to design their course offerings. I see most universities and colleges in Liberia with large business and public administration programs but yet, we don’t see a large Liberian business coterie. And how many public administrators do we need for a country that has fewer than four million people? Do we need more public administrators, or do we need technologist, engineers, doctors, et al?Finally, the hardest thing about being an ICT professional is that you don’t enjoy the luxury of taking a break from learning. If you decide to take a break from learning or do not follow the trends, you are lost. Changes in technology are faster than any other area. What was a cutting-edge technology yesterday is an antique today. And that’s the same with knowledge of ICT. And this is why we must develop an environment that ensures continuous improvement and development of ICT skills.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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GPL damage causes wastage of water

first_imgDear Editor,Without a doubt, over the years, I have seen tremendous improvement in our water system by both administrations; and this present administration, under the guidance of Dr Van-West Charles, is going the extra mile to ensure citizens get the best quality potable water.We have a society in which many of us fail to see the importance of the works/commitment being undertaken, and take things for granted; thus we are seeing wastage of water, damage to the mains etc. And as a result, sometime many get affected.Over four days ago, Guyana Power and Light (GPL) staff change a lantern post at Uitvlugt Sideline Dam, and during the process, the main was damaged and water is gushing out day and night. At Uitvlugt Pasture, the last street, there’s a main running across the drain, and for months now, water is flowing from the connection day and night. Now, GWI have their meter readers, contract workers, and their own staff walking all around, and they are bound to see the wastage. Why can’t they make a report or a mental note, and have issues like this fixed?Editor, over the years, whenever I see damages, I know GWI have a hotline, but I usually message them via their Facebook page, and the matter gets rectified. Walking around Uitvlugt, I have notice more than three places where water is constantly running/wasting due to errors from the line/main, and I cannot understand why citizens cannot understand the importance of water and try reporting it.Again, I would reiterate, the staff traverse all over, and many places I would see water wasting and it’s not being fixed. I am not a saint, sometimes I leave my tap turned on and water is being wasted, but it’s nothing in comparison to what I see happening all over I go.Wastage affects us because of getting low pressure, water being contaminated, or some people cannot get. Wastage also causes the road, dam, parapets etc to deteriorate. All of this could be avoided by just one phone call or a message. Over the years, I know that as soon as they receive a report, the issue is address.GWI should explore the possibility of charging the staff assigned to areas that have leaks for months and they not reporting it. They cannot depend on the citizen to report alone. It’s their interest, they are being paid to do a job, and they should be more responsible.Sincerely,Sahadeo Bateslast_img read more

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Hospital plans to expand, rebuild

first_imgIt’s good news for Whittier, Collier said. “This is creating a lot of synergy with new jobs for the community,” he said. “We will have more doctors wanting to locate their offices in Whittier. This also means a demand for good housing, additional retail and restaurants to meet the demand from employees, as well as visitors.” Plans to demolish the hospital’s main building and replace it with the four-story tower were approved in 2002. Work on the new tower, which is expected to cost about $200 million, is expected to be completed in 2012. The commission’s approval will allow the hospital to speed up work on the tower. The hospital is somewhat under a deadline because of a state law requiring all hospitals to be earthquake-safe by 2013, said Julie Reback, Presbyterian Intercommunity’s vice president of marketing and planning. The new main building will be twice as big as the original and have more beds for critical care, emergency and neo-natal intensive care, Reback said. WHITTIER – Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital has embarked on a major expansion that will include a new medical office building and the construction of a new main building that complies with state earthquake standards. The Whittier Planning Commission on Monday approved plans for the hospital’s new 105,600-square-foot, five-story medical office building. Commissioners also cleared the way for Presbyterian Intercommunity officials to accelerate plans to demolish the hospital’s main building and replace it with a new four-story tower that meets the state’s new earthquake standards. “The hospital is going to be expanding,” said Jeff Collier, director of community development. “It’s going to tear down more than 100,000 square feet of existing hospital building and, in return, adding a new four-story tower. It also will have a new five-story, 106,700-square-foot building.” The new medical office building, meanwhile, is projected to open in 2008 at 12462 Putnam St. It is expected to cost about $24 million. The office building will provide outpatient services, including breast cancer screening, diabetes education, oncology, physical rehabilitation and wound management, officials said. mike.sprague@sgvn.com (562)698-0955, Ext. 3022160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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Yucca plants useful as snacks, soap, even needle and thread

first_imgWhen you spot a yucca plant in full flower, it’s easy to imagine someone has played a practical joke and decorated the hillsides with huge white candles. Because of their tall white flowering stalks, they are commonly known as “Our Lord’s Candle.” Another common name for them is “Spanish Bayonet,” due to their needle-sharp leaf tips. Botanists refer to them as Yucca whipplei. These plants were extremely useful to the American Indians living in our valley. They wove the leaf fibers into ropes, nets and baskets. They roasted the seeds and ground them into flour. They soaked and pounded the roots to make soap. And they even broke off the sharp pointy leaf tips so that the stringy fiber remained attached; this made a fine needle and thread. Soap, snacks, baskets and a needle and thread – that’s almost as useful as a trip to the local shopping mall. Our next bird hike is scheduled at Towsley Canyon today from 8-10 a.m. Towsley Canyon is located on the Old Road, west of I-5 and about 1/4 mile south of the Calgrove exit. You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on “The Hike Report,” brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (1220 AM) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority. For our complete hike and activity schedule and for trail maps, go to www.LAMountains.com. Wendy Langhans is an interpretive naturalist for the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority. She posted this story May 16 on the Santa Clarita Valley hub on valleynews.com. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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GAA: ST EUNAN’S GAA CLUB NEWS

first_imgClub Notes – Naomh Adhamhnáin – 07.05.12 The Seniors recorded a good win over Four Masters on Saturday evening in the Park while the Reserves were beaten in their fixture. Both teams will host Kilcar this Sunday with 1:30pm and 3pm throw-in’s. The Juniors went down by a single point to MacCumhaills on Friday and they travel to Ardara this Saturday evening with a 7:30pm throw-in.The Minor Footballers continued their impressive start to the season on Friday when they travelled to Malin and came away with a good victory; they have now sealed their place in the Northern Board League Final. The U-12 Footballers began their season on Monday evening. The Div. 1 team hosted Fanad and had a good win. They travel to Cloughaneely next Monday. The Div. 2 team were also at home to Naomh Padraig, Lifford and they too recorded a win. They are also on their travels next week heading to Castlefin to meet Robert Emmets.The Minor hurlers finished their league campaign with a well deserved win over Burt. Games restart after the Leaving Certificate examinations. The U14 Hurlers also won against Burt last Thursday and meet the Gaels this week.Good luck to our lads on the U15 and U16 County Hurling teams who play in the Ulster Féile this coming Saturday.U16 and U18 Hurling training is on every Monday at 5:30pm in O’Donnell Park. U12 Hurling training Tuesday at 5:30pm, U14 Hurlers train at 4:30pm. As usual all new hurlers welcome.Our Friday evening Hurling & Camogie Academy is back up and running as is the Sunday Morning Football Academy. Both Academies cater from kids from U-6 up to U-10 with almost 150 children in attendance last Sunday morning.The U14 Girls footballers defeated Fanad last week in a very close game to clinch top spot in their section, they await word of their next opponents.Our Summer Camps are provisionally set for the following dates: Hurling & Camogie – July 16th – 20th and Football – July 23rd – 27th. We will also host a Cúl Camp this year from July 2nd. Forms for all these camps will be available shortly.Last week’s Lotto numbers were 1-12-19-20. There were 4 winners that each matched 3 numbers and win €25 each. Patrick McGettigan, 104 Ard O’Donnell; Edward Cassidy, Ashlawn (both Adrian); Joseph Gallagher, 108 Ard O’Donnell and Kieran Doherty, Glencar Irish (both card). Jackpot now €1,850. This week’s numbers will follow in a club e-mail later in the week. GAA: ST EUNAN’S GAA CLUB NEWS was last modified: May 9th, 2012 by BrendaShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:GAA: ST EUNAN’S GAA CLUB NEWSlast_img read more

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Story of White Sox season: A call to arms

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Contreras put the finish to one of the most dominating performances in playoff history by pitching a five-hitter in Sunday’s 6-3 clincher. Chicago relievers – make that one reliever, lefty Neal Cotts – threw a measly two-thirds of an inning in the series as the starters hogged the mound with their four straight complete games. Not since the 1956 World Series, when the Yankees threw five straight complete games, has one team had that many in the same series. In the ALCS alone, the White Sox posted more complete games than four major-league teams did during the entire season. No wonder pitching coach Don Cooper is such a popular guy, whose name has popped up for other jobs. “I’ve seen the rumors,” Williams said with a laugh. “He’s unavailable. I have to be very careful. He’ll use everything I say against me in the next contract negotiations.” Paul Konerko wanted to share his MVP award after a jaw-dropping pitching performance by the Chicago White Sox. “Really, you can split that thing five ways,” Konerko said. “Those guys were unbelievable.” After Contreras only lasted 8 innings in a Game 1 loss, Buehrle, Garland, Garcia and then Contreras in his second start went the distance. “With the experience I’ve had in the playoffs, whether I was managing or playing, I’ve never seen four horses like that, that come out of the gate and have pitched so well,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “You might have to go back to Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, that group, or the group Baltimore had in, I guess, ’66.” The Orioles in 1969 had been the last team with four complete games in one postseason. Dave McNally and Jim Palmer went the distance in the final two games to beat the Twins in the ALCS before Mike Cuellar and McNally tossed six-hitters against the New York Mets in the first two games of the World Series. The White Sox pitched nine complete games all season and had four starters win at least 14 games, led by Garland’s 18. Garland and Buehrle went to the All-Star game, where Buehrle not only started but was the winning pitcher. As a unit this season, the White Sox staff had the second-lowest ERA (3.61) in the AL. Garland developed from an underachiever who had three straight seasons of 12 wins to a top starter, finally reaching the level mapped out for him when he was a first-round pick of the Chicago Cubs in 1997. But Cooper’s best work may have been with Contreras, who was 4-5 at the All-Star break and then became the team’s No. 1 starter by going 11-2 the rest of the way. He won his final eight regular-season starts and the playoff opener against Boston. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!center_img Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland (Kennedy High of Granada Hills), Freddy Garcia and Jose Contreras strung together four straight complete games – remarkably so – as the White Sox wiped out the Angels in five game to win the American League Championship Series and reach the World Series for the first time since 1959. “It seemed like they were competing against each other, trying to one-up each other,” general manager Ken Williams said of his starting pitchers. “You hope to get one (complete game) and give your bullpen a rest, but this is ridiculous.” last_img read more

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HORROR AS TWO MEN KILLED IN FREAK COUNTY DONEGAL FARM ACCIDENT

first_imgBREAKING NEWS: Two men have died in an horrific farm accident in Co Donegal this evening.The men were working to change a tyre on a tractor at a farm at Monellan, Crossroads, when the tractor tyre exploded.The explosion hit the men and they both died at the scene. The men  – both aged 52 – were lifelong friends. One was from Cloughfinn, the other from Crossroads, Raphoe.Relatives and friends of the men rushed to the scene of the accident.Emergencies services also attended the scene, with the area now cordoned off by Gardai.The Health and Safety Authority is expected to send officials to the scene in the morning. The deaths have caused widespread anguish amongst the close-knit community. The dead men were popular locally.“It appears to be an horrific freak accident,” said one local man this evening.“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the men who died.” HORROR AS TWO MEN KILLED IN FREAK COUNTY DONEGAL FARM ACCIDENT was last modified: November 22nd, 2014 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:Crossroadsdonegalfarm accidentinvestigationtwo men deadlast_img read more

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The QPR v Stoke City quiz

first_imgStoke City visit Loftus Road this weekend for a vital match for QPR. Test your knowledge of the history between the clubs by seeing how many of these five questions you can answer correctly.[wp-simple-survey-6]Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img

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Walking for Eden, and elephants

first_img19 March 2009Walking is much more than a way to get from A to B. It’s a meditation and a pilgrimage.The late Boudewijn Wegerif, a Swede who walked from Stockholm to Cape Town in 1999 to protest world debt, called walking “brain aerobics.” He maintained that the regular movement of your left leg and right arm followed by right leg and left arm – continued for a couple of hours – increased the connections between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. He would have known. Stockholm to Cape Town is a long trek.MediaClubSouthAfricaFree high-resolution photos and professional feature articles from Brand South Africa’s media service. Of course, in this day and age, walking is probably the least efficient way to get from one place to another – unless they’re really close. So there has to be another reason for anyone deciding to walk the 400-odd kilometres between Kranshoek in the Knysna Forest to Addo near Port Elizabeth. And there is. South Africa’s Eden to Addo Mega-Hike is a pilgrimage – a pilgrimage to biodiversity.The hike is offered once a year, usually in September, as a “slackpacking” trail. What this means is that trailists carry only the essentials in a day pack, and all their gear is taken from camp to camp by a back-up vehicle. Added luxuries are the fact that your tents are erected for you, and meals provided. So like any good pilgrim, you can concentrate on the mission at hand.Natural migrationThe mission is to understand the need for, and importance of, conservation corridors in general, and this one in particular. In the past, conservation areas were established for a variety of reasons, mostly good. But often they were too small to allow for natural migration, so the pressure on the reserve’s resources would become excessive, and necessitate some rather creative management strategies.This has been recognised by conservation authorities in the last couple of decades so reserves in the southern Africa region – and indeed all over the world – are being consolidated.Successful local examples include the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park, made up of the Kruger National Park in South Africa, Gonarezhou National Park, Manjinji Pan Sanctuary and Malipati Safari Area in Zimbabwe, and the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique; and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park that straddles the border between South Africa and Botswana. In fact, fences between conservation areas are dropping almost as fast as the value of the Zimbabwe dollar.The hike traverses a unique as-yet unproclaimed corridor stretching from the tangled, green coastal Afromontane Forest biome of Knysna in the Western Cape to the game-rich Albany Thicket of Addo in the Eastern Cape, passing through a range of farms and reserves belonging to about 60 different landowners.While all the stakeholders are in favour of the idea of a conservation corridor, it’s not that easy to implement. Which is why the Mega-Hike was established. As well as being a great way to spend about three weeks, it is also a fund-raising project, and offers participants the opportunity to interact with a variety of conservation specialists who share their knowledge on the trail.It really is about the conservation, not the walking. All profits go directly to the Eden to Addo Corridor Initiative, a non-profit Section 21 company.Going postalGaleo Saintz, who leads the hike, pioneered the route in 2005 with the specific purpose of finding out whether there was a hikeable route between Knysna and Addo.He set off alone and posted light, dehydrated food, spare camping gas cylinders and fresh socks to himself at post offices in towns he’d never heard of. He was joined on sections of the walk by friends – and even one complete stranger, who really liked what he was doing so decided to keep him company.The upshot was that he managed to track down his supplies in the tiny rural post offices, and found it was possible – if rather strenuous – to hike the route. The next year, 2006, the escorted Eden to Addo Mega-Hike was launched with 24 participants. The 2007 trek was cancelled as Saintz was sick, and no one else knew the route, but the 2008 one went ahead without a hitch, with 18 hikers walking the full distance, and six opting for one of the shorter one- or two-week options.“The long-term strategy,” Saintz says, “is to make it a self-guided trail, but it’s wild country and, with so many landowners, it will take a lot of planning.”The hike straddles five distinct biomes and links three major conservation areas. The existing parks and reserves are the Knysna Protected Area, the Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve and the Greater Addo Elephant National Park. These together protect patches of Afromontane Forest, Mountain Fynbos, Succulent Karoo, Savanna Grassland and Albany Thicket. All these biomes are transition zones that overlap – and even shift from year to year with varying rainfall.The trail takes participants from one biome to another, linking seven mountain ranges and peaks over the 19 days. Daily walking distances average about 23 kilometres, with the shortest day being 12 kilometres and the longest about 35 kilometres, so this is not an easy hike. The terrain is mountainous and there is little flat walking, and where there is, it is far.The views are stupendous, the air is invigorating and the constant change in scenery and vegetation offers an intellectual challenge equal to the physical one.Some not-so pretty aspects of the hike include climbing over fences, fighting through thick stands of invasive alien trees, and coming across gin traps and other indications that the proclamation of this corridor really is a priority. Fireside debates are long, interesting and – while not acrimonious – can get quite robust.Mysterious elephants of KnysnaIt is surmised – with some good evidence – that the trail loosely follows old elephant migration paths. And this raises an interesting question.The elephants of Knysna, the only really wild elephants left in South Africa as there are no fences keeping them in a designated park – and certainly the most mysterious, elusive and endangered – are dwindling at an alarming rate. Strong evidence suggests that only one matriarch and a few younger individuals remain. But they are genetically isolated, and almost certainly destined to die out.Conservationists tried translocating a couple of elephants from Kruger to Knysna a few years ago, but those poor Lowveld animals took one look at the tangled forests and rushed to hide out in the much safer-looking surrounding farmlands. That didn’t work out and that plan was abandoned.So there’s no hope for the Knysna elephants. They’re on a one-way trip to extinction – to join the dodo and the quagga. They say extinction is forever, but perhaps, just maybe, if the corridor is opened the elephants may start exploring ancient migration routes, and who knows.It’s a ridiculously optimistic and romantic idea, but that’s what a pilgrimage is all about – faith. And hope. It’s about putting one foot in front of the other, day after day, for a cause, for a dream, and for a better future.The 2009 hike runs from 4 to 23 September. There are only 24 places. Book now.First published by MediaClubSouthAfrica.com – get free high-resolution photos and professional feature articles from Brand South Africa’s media service.last_img read more

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Culinary graduates steak their claim

first_imgRed hot in the kitchen: Chef Oriel Mbowane,wearing apron, shows the studentshow it’s done. The fourth group of students graduatedfrom the Singita School of Cooking in April.(Images: Singita)MEDIA CONTACTS • Pam RichardsonSingita community development manager+27 21 683 3424Lyndon JafthaThe Singita group of game reserves and lodges was built with the dream of protecting and preserving the wildlife in South Africa’s eastern region, known as the lowveld.This is where visitors will find world-famous destinations such as the Kruger National Park, and the Sabi Sand Reserve.Today, Singita (Shangaan, meaning “place of miracles”) maintains that dream, and one of its priorities is to reach out to the local community with development and support initiatives. The Singita School of Cooking is one of those initiatives.Kurt Abrahams, formerly the senior sous-chef (second in command in the kitchen) at Singita’s Sweni Lodge in the south-central Kruger Park, and Jason Trollip, former GM of Singita Kruger Park, are the men behind this inspiring community project.Training is conducted in-house at Shishangaan, an old military base in the Kruger Park, which is now the staff village, housing about 100 people. By building onto an existing footprint, Singita has managed to minimise damage to the surrounding environment.Each course provides between six to nine lucky students with a sponsorship and the chance to forge a dream career. The fifth group of students commenced their training in April 2012, while the previous group graduated in the same month.All graduates leave with a level four certificate, as stipulated by the National Qualifications Framework, in professional cookery.Singita Kruger Park’s GM Caroline Burke said, “In remote, rural areas equipping even one person with a good job and sound prospects, has a burgeoning effect on members of their immediate family, as well as the broader community.”Training provides not only an income, she added, but the trainees themselves provide a source of inspiration to their peers.“At Singita we are very proud to be able to make this contribution to the development of people in the regions where we operate,” said Burke.Singita benefits too, as it now has a continually renewing pool of well-trained, talented young chefs with which to staff its lodges.Skills transfer and developmentThe programme is advertised via the local community development forum, and the Mahlamba-Ndlopfu forum, which represents 12 villages in the area. These forums reach students from the nearby Bushbuckridge district, one of eight municipalities in the Kruger Park’s vicinity.Those wanting to apply need to meet criteria, which includes a matric certificate and, of course, a genuine interest in cooking The Singita staff interview those who have applied and a shortlist is created. Those on the shortlist are transported to Singita for a cook-off to assess their basic skill level, and to complete written tests and interviews.From there, the final selection is made and the chosen students are registered on an official learnership status. They receive equipment and a uniform, as well as a monthly stipend while they learn.The programme runs full-time and gives students comprehensive theoretical and practical training in skills such as preparation, making of sauces and stocks, choosing the right cut, and more.It also aims at building essential business skills such as computer knowledge, interviewing skills, confidence and improved spoken English.The aspirant chefs learn their trade under Oriel Mbowane, Singita’s chef skills developer, who is assisted by visiting chefs from other Singita lodges.On completion of the course, the young graduates are given the opportunity to apply for a commis chef position in a kitchen at any of the Singita lodges, meaning they will work as a junior chef under a chef de partie.Others are assisted in securing entry level positions in other lodges in the Kruger Park. The reserve currently employs 10 of Singita’s qualified students, while eight others are pursuing careers as chefs in other hotel and lodge kitchens in the park.Two Singita graduates, Lameck Mnisi and Mavis Mongoe – described by Singita staff as one of the “shining talents” of the school – have since been promoted to demi-chefs de partie.Successful community initiativeSince its inception in 2007, the initiative has seen 34 students graduate, including those from the fifth programme. Because of its success, the course has been increased to 18 months, and the costs of sponsoring a student has increased to R75 000 (US$9 200).The Singita Community Development Trust underwrites the costs incurred. Some of the students are sponsored by guests at the Singita Game Reserve, while others are granted funding through the government’s support of learnership programmes.Sponsors are kept in contact with the students and receive progress reports.Singita Game Reserve dates back to a piece of land bought in 1925. It now consists of nine lodges – five in South Africa, three in Tanzania, and one in Zimbabwe. Here the company is working with the Grumeti Community and Wildlife Fund on a black rhino relocation project.Its corporate social responsibility focus is based on four key areas – education, where it supports local preschools and primary schools; supporting local enterprises; conservation education amongst young people; and supply of potable water.last_img read more

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