There was little pomp and minimal ceremony, but a recent celebration to honour the handymen and receptionists of the Student Housing & Residence Life department was nonetheless a momentous one. The gathering had been called to toast the successful completion of two training programmes - about 20 handymen (right) had passed a multi-skilling course in carpentry, plumping, glazing, bricklaying, plastering and tiling at the Belhar Training College, and a similar-sized cohort of receptionists had wrapped up a first-aid programme at UCT. What made the occasion so memorable for these staff - the "backbone" of the residence system, according to Dr Ian Mackintosh, director of Housing & Residence Life - was that they were the first residence staff at UCT to receive certificates for completing an external training programme. It took a bit of work and courage, though. According to Lorenzo Barry, who chairs the university's close-knit Handymen Forum, a number of his colleagues were jumpy on the first day of the handymen course in Belhar, fearing stern instructors and book-heavy exams. Neither materialised. The instructors were down to earth and helpful, and "exams" were simple, hands-on tasks. The UCT staffers bloomed. "They couldn't believe what they could do with their hands," reported Barry. Apparently, both handymen and receptionists are over their academic jitters, and are eyeing the next round of training.
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