|Akeila Chapman accepts her Worldskills Barbados award from??Executive Director of the TVET Council,??Henderson Eastmond. (A. Miller/BGIS)|
Akeila Chapman will be taking her ???A’ game to Brazil when she goes to that country in November to compete in the hairstyling category of Worldskills Americas 2012.
Expecting to face stiff competition from her Latin American counterparts, Akelia boldly proclaimed that she will be using this experience as a learning tool and a platform for which she can put the Barbadian cosmetology industry on the world map.
"I am not really nervous when it comes to facing them [Latin American competitors]; Barbadians are different and we have our own style. So I am really going to see what they have to offer and show off what Barbadians can do," the 21-year-old said, adding that she would love to win.
Akeila will be competing against contestants from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Paraguay and Brazil.
Having represented the Barbados Vocational Training Board (BVTB), in the inaugural Worldskills Barbados competition in??March 2012, Akelia placed second in the hairdressing category.?? She also earned the second highest score in the overall Worldskills Barbados competition.
In an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service, Akeila disclosed that her teammate and friend, Clesita Moore, had won first place.?? However, as fate would have it, Clesita was over the age limit for Worldskills Americas, and consequently, Akelia was chosen to represent Barbados.
Both competitions are based on Worldskills International, a global "skills Olympics" where persons under the age of 25 showcase their skills and compete in various technical and vocational fields.?? The Barbados leg of the competition was organised by the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Council.
"I feel great," the budding hairdresser said, further noting that she hoped her participation in Worldskills Americas would help to advance her career.?? "I want to do [hair] shows and style hair on stage. Eventually, I want to judge these types of shows.?? I also want to be a hair products technician," she disclosed.
Growing up, Akeila always knew she wanted "to do hair", so a few years after she finished secondary school, she enrolled in the BVTB’s cosmetology programme.?? The 21-year-old explained that the course structure gave her a solid combination of theoretical and practical knowledge.??????
"The course is excellent.?? The things I knew about cosmetology before I started school were different to what I know now, and I had to learn to do those things the right way," she said.
"The first year is strictly classes and a lot of theory.?? In the second year, we are sent on job attachment, and then in the third year, we do beauty therapy and remain on job attachment,"?? she pointed out, adding that she was happy she was selected on the three-year programme instead of?? a six or nine month course.
Akeila Chapman (left) along with tutor, Wendy Bishop; judge Adzil Stuart and??a classmate??during one of Akeila’s practice sessions. (A. Miller/BGIS)
Akeila’s preparation for the Worldskills Americas competition has been very intense.?? Three days a week, she practices at various salons but most of her training takes place on the job at her "normal salon".?? She still attends school regularly and under the watchful eye of her tutor, Wendy Bishop and Worldskills Barbados judge, Adzil Stuart, Akeila is paired with other students for various "face off" matches.
During these timed-rounds, Akelia executes a variety of hairstyles and techniques she intends to use in Brazil. ??During the competition, she will be expected to prepare a male’s avant-garde hairstyle with colour and cut, within a specific time.??
"Avant-garde is not a style someone would wear everyday. So, it would be wild and with lots of colour," the young entrepreneur explained.?? Another task she would have to perform during Worldskills Americas is the replication of a female hairstyle from a photograph.??
Tutor of the BVTB’s cosmetology programme, Wendy Bishop, explained that the competition has six modules.?? Permanent waves and futurist styles were some of the things expected for the men’s component, while in the female section, one of the tasks is converting a ???pin-up day style’ into a ???night-appropriate style’, without cutting the hair.??????
Ms. Bishop is confident that Akelia will do well in the upcoming Worldskills Competition. Stating that the preparation sessions exposed Akeila to the techniques of other hairdressers such as Angela Sealy, Arlette Olton and Adzil Stuart, Ms. Bishop noted that the only challenge she could foresee would be the language barrier.
"We are hoping for some good interpreters but the judges are accessing the skills and once she understands the criteria and the instructions, Akeila should do well," the hairdressing tutor observed.??
Ms. Bishop pointed out that all the students would be working on mannequins and Akeila’s advantage would be her personal style, as well as her salon and industry experience.
Emphasising that she was proud to have one of her students exposed to Barbados and the world, Ms. Bishop said: "I have seen Akelia grow from the first competition [Worldskills Barbados], and her work has matured.?? She is now more patient and focused.?? [Participating in Worldskills Americas] will help to mould Akeila into a professional hairdresser and give her a wider scope for where she wants to go with cosmetology."