???Challenging??? and ???educational??? are two of the words which Barbadian Rukiya Clarke used to describe her bronze medal-winning experience in the category of Ladies and Men???s Hairdressing at WorldSkills Americas (WSA) 2014, held in Bogot??, Colombia, earlier this year.

Speaking at the official presentation of her award on Tuesday in the Carambola Conference Room of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Council???s Annex, the 19-year-old admitted to having doubts about her preparation for the competition.??

???I didn???t think I was ready for it,??? she lamented. ???But when I got there and saw the stuff that the other competitors were doing, I was motivated to complete my hairstyles.???

Rukiya is still unsure of her plans for the future but she stated that she would like to teach cosmetology at the tertiary level. WSA 2014 was held from April 1 to 5, with over 30 countries competing for top honours.

The team from Barbados comprised members from the Barbados Vocational Training Board, the Barbados Community College, and the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic, of which Rukiya was the only competitor.

Looking towards WSA 2016, Executive Director of the TVET Council, Henderson Eastmond, spoke about strengthening Barbados??? representation.

???We [currently] focus on five skill areas, of which we are only able to send one representative to the regional level,??? he said. ???Our aim therefore is to strengthen capacity and win medals for Barbados, which will help bring recognition to the quality of Barbados??? education and training system,??? he added.

Also in attendance was Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Human Resource Development, Yolande Howard, who placed emphasis on how well Rukiya handled the pressure despite being [Barbados???] lone representative at WSA 2014.

She also reinforced the importance of developing education for future generations, adding that ???it is therefore essential that even during these trying economic times, we continue to invest in our education and training systems to help mould the future of young persons???

Other team members receiving awards for participation were Technical Delegate, Marlyn Rawlins; Team Leader Maxine Thomas; and Deputy Chief Expert, Adzil Stuart.

WorldSkills Americas is a regional competition held every two years. This is the second time that Barbados has competed and medaled in the Ladies and Men???s Hairdressing category, the first being a silver medal won by Akeila Chapman in 2012.


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