Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 22, 2015 (SKNIS): Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris has urged the private sector to assist in hiring persons enrolled in the People Employment Programme (PEP) as the programme should mainly focus on providing “a period of apprenticeship and training that enhances their worth and value as productive contributors to the economy.”

Speaking at the National Consultation on the Economy (October 22), the Honourable Prime Minister Harris noted that the people of St. Kitts and Nevis deserve a better standard of living. He noted that the government is of the view that the economic growth envisioned must be job rich.

“Economic growth,” said the prime minister, “must reduce the level of poverty and increase permanent employment in the Federation.”

“It is for this reason that my Government will reform the People Employment Programme (PEP) with a view to transforming it to a more productive training programme targeted at employment opportunities that are being created,” he said.

Prime Minister Harris explained that PEP should focus on the training of individuals in the skills that are required to fill the gaps identified in the labour market.

“The PEP should be seen as a training program for employment and not employment in and of itself,” he said, noting that the emphasis should be on training with assistance in job placements and entrepreneurships.

“Persons should therefore not expect to be in the programme for extended periods of time. In this regard, I urge the private sector businesses to work with us in reforming this initiative. Those who have “trainees” for extended periods must now be prepared to fund them rather than continue this burden on the taxpayer.”

“This will be a fresh start to changing the lives of so many on PEP who do excellent work and are underpaid,” said Prime Minister Harris.

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