Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 16, 2018 (S.T.E.P.) — One year ago (on Thursday February 16, 2017), the Government of National Unity launched the Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP), which aimed at offering persons an opportunity to learn a skill and obtain a job attachment as part of a programme that is grounded in a ‘people centred governance framework’.
STEP, which was formerly known as the People Employment Programme (PEP) had been reorganised, restructured and repositioned to ensure that the trainees received genuine training, and were imbued with the necessary work ethics, and were given value for money.
Mr Wendell Wattley, Director of the Skills Training Empowerment Programme, is reporting that as the institution celebrates its first anniversary, they have many positives among them the full time employment of STEP interns attached to a locally owned company.
“Mr Regiwell Francis, owner of St. Kitts Marine Works Ltd, was the first person to absorb STEP interns in his payroll within the space of three months, since we started reassigning persons to private entities,” noted Mr Wattley.
Four STEP interns, who had indicated that their wish was to work with heavy equipment and train in the area of mechanics, were in September last year attached to the New Guinea-based establishment. One of the interns left for greener pastures, but three who remained Mr Jovan Powell, Mr Junior Murray, and Mr Aquan Julius have since been given full time employment and are off the STEP payroll.
“I wish to really commend Mr Regiwell Francis because he made a promise that he would assess those young men, get them training in certain skills and make the evaluation of their competency level and their attitude towards work,” observed Mr Wattley.
“That that is also a critical component of the whole approach and within a very short space he was able to determine that they were capable of performing at the level required and had the work aptitude level which is required by his business, and so I wish again to compliment Mr Regiwell Francis.”
Mr Regiwell Francis revealed that under the People Employment Programme (PEP), he had approached them to have some of the trainees attached to his company, but he was never given the opportunity to train any. He was therefore happy when Mr Wattley approached him and asked him to take at least four young interns.
“From the beginning I applied to PEP and they never sent anyone to me,” said Mr Francis. “Mr Wattley approached me and asked me if I could consider taking some people from the area who are interested in doing work under the STEP. After discussions I agreed to give them a try.”
According to Mr Francis, while one left, three showed a lot of ambition and willingness to work and learn. He exposed them to many different areas of the marine sector at the boatyard and they gravitated very well and they picked up on the skills quickly. Some ended using heavy equipment like the backhoe.
“We saw the potential in them and we decided out of fairness to take them on full-time to release the pressure from the government, because the idea was I think with the STEP was to give employers like myself opportunity to see the potential in these other individuals who might not always get a chance to see if they would learn and pick up on the skills,” stated Mr Francis.
He concluded by saying: “The Skills Training Empowerment Programme is a major success because if it was not for the STEP, I may not have given these individuals opportunities to take employment, learn and have to pay them while they are learning and all that, and to have them eventually now in fully on our staff.”
The Director of STEP, Mr Wendell Wattley, is encouraging other employers who have persons who are on the STEP assigned to their businesses to seek to try within the shortest time possible to evaluate those persons and to make a determination of their suitability to be with their businesses.
“I do not want to see persons just letting the STEP interns provide to their businesses the capabilities,” said Mr Wattley. “They must be able to make an assessment of whether or not these persons are good enough to be part of their businesses. In that way, it provides great opportunity for others to be part of STEP. It gives a greater scope to get other persons on to the programme and get them migrating towards full time employment.”