PEP engages 800 persons in job attachments and training

Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 14, 2013 (SKNIS): More than 800 persons have been productively engaged via job attachments or skills training since the People Employment Programme (PEP) office began such operations in mid-January.

PEP’s Project Manager Geoffrey Hanley told SKNIS that the response to the programme has been overwhelming with some 2,000 applications from persons seeking to be included in the six programme areas.

These are: the Engaging Qualified Interns Project (EQUIP) which focuses on job placement, while the National Infrastructure Improvement Project (NIIP) seeks to stimulate economic development through infrastructural enhancement thereby creating job opportunities. The enhancement of entrepreneurial and/or technical capacity is the goal of the Skills Training and Entrepreneurial Development (STED) programme and the Agri-Enterprise Training and Management Project (ATM) targets employment via local agricultural production. The final two programmes cater exclusively to women. Women in Small Enterprise (WISE) empowers prospective and existing women in small enterprises through the provision of micro-finance grant support while females with interest in construction and related trades are engaged in the Women in Construction Trades (WICT).

While appearing on SKNIS’ radio magazine Perspectives, Mr. Hanley said that the PEP has been progressing quite well.

“Persons have been congratulating us on the quality of persons that we are sending out there,” he stated, explaining that the organizers incorporated best practices from the 2009 Youth Empowerment through Skills (YES) programme. “… We put a number of mechanisms in place in terms of better supervision and on site visits and [frequent] dialogue with persons so the feedback from the general public for the most part has been really positive.”

Most of the applicants expressed an interest in work in the hospitality field. This comes as no surprise stated Mr. Hanley, given the number of tourism-related projects that are in development or are soon to be launched. These include Christophe Harbour Development, Kittitian Hill, Imperial Bay St. Kitts Golf and Beach Residences and the Koi Resort and Residences.

The PEP project manager added that some of the trainings been offered are specialized.

“There are certain soft skills that businesses are looking for …,” Hanley explained. “For example the Secretarial training, there’s going to be a QuickBooks component to it [featuring] … how to do a payroll and that kind of basic information that is important to a day-to-day running of an office.”

A number of persons interested in landscaping are exploring proper techniques to maintain the type of grass used on golf courses and sporting venues around the island including Warner Park. This training is a joint venture with the St. Kitts-Nevis Football Association.

The People Employment Programme is implemented under the theme “Enhancing Livelihoods, Improving Productivity.”The initiative was originally designed to cater to 1,000 persons for 6 months but Mr. Hanley said that organizers will have to employ some creative thinking going forward.

“We’ll have to go back to the drawing board because with another thousand persons to service, it would mean then that we have to look at how we can capture as many of those persons.”

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