Valedictorians in the Apprenticeship Programme Optimistic About Their Employability

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Jahmarley Knight and Steve Pinnock are optimistic about their employability having just received National Vocational Qualification of Jamaica (NVQ-J) certification in General Construction and Electrical Installation.

The at-risk youth received honour awards and were veledictorians at a graduation ceremony of 73 participants in the National Military Engagement and Apprenticeship Programme.

It was held at the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) headquarters at Up Park Camp on December 28, 2017.

The nine-month training programme, which began in March 2017, is a partnership among the JDF, Citizen Security & Justice Programme (CSJP) and the Heart Trust/NTA.

Mr. Knight said that the programme instilled in him "better vales, discipline and attitudes towards work than what I had before".

"I studied electrical engineering [in] the [Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination] but doing it here, allows me to apply it to jobs like the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) because here I get the practice that I will need," the 19-year-old Waterhouse, in St. Andrew resident continued.

He indicated that his interest in electrical installation stems from his fascination with light and electricity and the conclusion that "everyone needs (to use) it".

He described the training and apprenticeship programme as "great and wonderful", as it provides a lifeline for youth from at-risk communities to stay away from crime.

With the Level II NVQ-J qualification safely secured under his belt, Mr. Knight now has his sights set on going overseas to pursue employment.

Similar sentiments have been shared by Mr. Pinnock, who hails from York Town in Clarendon.

The 23-year-old, who secured the Level II NVQ-J certification in General Construction, is able to lay and render concrete blocks and build partition walls. He also said the programme will enable him to successfully achieve full employment.

"It has helped me to develop a better understanding of how to approach people.... I decided to enrol in this programme to achieve better for my life and for my family," he said.

He will also use the skills that he has learned to encourage friends and family members who are from at-risk communities to pursue the same programme.

In his address to graduates, State Minister for National Security, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., noted that the training and apprenticeship programme is a conduit to actively solving the crime problem by engaging and empowering young people.

"One of the most important things is social intervention... . The graduation must be seen as part and parcel of our Ministry's crime strategy. We are trying to achieve a smarter approach to enable our citizens to make smarter decision," he said.

The Senator also expressed hope in the continuation of CSJP to "create opportunities for youngsters who are thirsty to shine".

Programme Manager of CSJP, Simeon Robinson, said his entity has been in partnership with the JDF for the purpose of preparing at-risk youth for the labour market through on-the-job training in various vocational skills.

These, he said, include welding, general construction and electrical installation.

He said the engagement of youth in this way was endorsed and further concretised in 2016 by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness.

"The Prime Minister expressed an intention to diversify and expand the engagement of the JDF in the pursuit of the Government's goal of realising increased social and economic growth, along with strengthened national security," he said.

He continued that CSJP has been able to implement this initiative over the years through funding from its international development partners.

They are the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID) and Global Affairs Canada, as well as support from the Jamaican Government.

Mr. Robinson commended the trainees, noting that their "determination and dedication have taken them far and will continue to take (them) closer to accomplishing their goals and dreams".

For his part, Acting Charge' d'affaires of the Canadian High Commission, Walter Bernyck, urged the graduates to ensure the opportunity provided by the training and apprenticeship programme works for them.

Follow your passions and stay true to yourself. You have a chance to be role models to people in your community. Recognize your importance to your family and to your community," he said.

The training and apprenticeship programme is designed to address the reality that the country faces with a growing crime rate usually perpetuated by the youth cohort.

Through skills training and military supervision, the training is expected to engender positive values and attitudes, thus providing employment and entrepreneurship options for those who would normally have found their way into deviant or illegitimate activities as a permanent source of income. 


Story contributed by Chad Bryan, JIS News