Apprentices earn Full-Time Employment Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 10 May 2012 00:00

Many of us have heard or uttered condemning words upon our youths about their desire to work and be productive citizens. We have labeled them lazy but perhaps that is just an excuse we have developed to not do our part to reach out and lend a hand. Since the United Democratic Party was elected to govern in 2008, young people have stepped up over and over again to prove that all they needed was an opportunity. The National Youth Apprenticeship Program held its second graduation ceremony on Thursday, May 3, and 45 young men and women graduated.

In his 2010 budget speech entitled “Recovery Today, Prosperity Tomorrow”, Prime Minister Barrow reintroduced a National Youth Apprenticeship Programme. The program came to life through the lobbying of Hon. Patrick Faber, who saw the need for alternative educational opportunities for out-of-school at-risk youths and single mothers. Faber’s colleagues in Cabinet backed the program based on their knowledge of its past success under a UDP administration.

Youths of the Apprenticeship Program are assigned to a place of business where they are trained for work. Areas of apprenticeship are Welding, AC/Refrigeration, Auto-mechanic, Hospitality Management, Cooking, Secretarial, Electrical, Plumbing, and Hotel Maintenance. The businesses involved this year are Carribbean Tires, Belize Diesel, Belize Biltmore Plaza, Radisson Fort George Hotel, Celebrity Restaurant, Old Belize, Smoky Mermaid, Belize Telemedia Limited, Belize Electricity Limited, Public Utilities Commission, Belize Coast Guard, Belize Defense Force, Belize Tourism Board, Rivero’s Welding and Guerra’s Construction. 

Apart from the job training, apprentices also report to ITVET for classes. According to Dianne Finnegan, Program Coordinator, the program has a two week orientation session. During this time the apprentices take courses on various issues including life skills, etiquette, importance of civic pride, HIV/AIDS education, anger management, workplace mannerisms and professionalism. The program runs for six months and apprentices receive one hundred dollars per week from government. Twenty dollars of every hundred is saved in an account and fifty dollars is deducted for missing a day of work.

Twenty youths graduated from the program in June of 2011 and nineteen of them are currently employed. This year forty-five young people graduated and thirty-eight have already been hired to work full time. Those who have not been hired as yet will be kept on the radar for employment. However, as Minister Patrick Faber said at the graduation ceremony, the training received under the program should equip them with skills needed to go out on their own and find jobs.

The third intake of the Apprenticeship Program will begin the orientation process on June 4th. There are already two hundred applicants.