Since 2013, Tahoe’s Guatemalan subsidiary, Minera San Rafael (MSR), has provided vocational skills training at its Vocational Training Center (the “Center”) in the San Rafael las Flores municipality. The Center offers courses in English, computer basics, silversmithing, apparel construction and professional welding. In March 2016, MSR added two more courses to the schedule: cosmetology and gastronomy.
Approximately 342 students from surrounding towns near the Escobal mine are currently enrolled in courses that will result in a technical degree upon graduation. “Attending courses at MSR’s vocational training center allows students to learn skills that translate into job opportunities and help build a more prosperous life for themselves and their families,” said Jorge Samayoa, MSR’s Social Supervisor.
Currently, 35 students are enrolled in the Center’s first cosmetology course. During the 12-month course, students attend class 20 hours per week and learn basic cosmetology skills through hands-on training. Students learn how to properly cut, color and style hair; apply makeup; execute manicures and pedicures; implement beauty salon safety and sanitation best practices; build a clientele base and manage a business. Students complete more than 100 hands-on assessments throughout the course to master foundational cosmetology techniques and build a client base. For example, to help jumpstart their careers, students provided over 45 free haircuts to local community members during a two-day marketing campaign. They also provided free haircuts to more than 25 students at a local elementary school.
In addition to cosmetology, the Center expanded its course offerings to include gastronomy. The course is taught by a seasoned professional with over 35 years’ experience managing restaurants in Guatemala City. The professor passes his experience on to students during a seven-month course in which students learn basic cooking methods, such as soup and broth preparation, and how to cook meals with fresh, local ingredients. Recipes include chow mein, Bolognese spaghetti, fruit and vegetable salads, barbeque gravy, pork ribs and sweet bananas in a mole sauce. And unlike other courses offered at the Center, the gastronomy course is taught in a portable classroom across the street from the Center. “MSR’s Vocational Training Center does not have a kitchen inside its building, so we brought a kitchen to the Vocational Training Center. Our classroom on wheels has all the student cook’s essentials: an industrial oven and stove, refrigerator, blenders, mixers and other cooking tools,” said Jorge.
With ample room to cook and learn, approximately 28 students from various backgrounds are enrolled in the inaugural course. For example, a group of mothers who cook daily lunches at three primary schools near the Escobal mine joined the course to learn better sanitation practices. Local farmers are also enrolled in the program to cook healthier meals using the livestock they raise as the main dish. “Next semester, we hope to expand our student base to workers in the food industry to advance their skills and careers,” said Jorge.