– Labour Minister says 50% being trained
An estimated 3,000 children drop out of school every year, but Minister of Labour Manzoor Nadir said yesterday a government programme is helping at least 50% get a skill.
Nadir yesterday visited several sites where school drop-outs are being trained in different skills through the National Training Project for Youth Empowerment (NTPYE).
The project was launched in June 2005 and aims to provide technical and vocational training to out-of-school youths across the country. It is intended to train 1,750 youths in a one-year period in a variety of occupations on demand.
In 2004, Nadir said close to 16,700 wrote the exams to gain entry to secondary schools, but this year just over 10,000 wrote the examinations offered by the Caribbean Examinations Council for those who would have completed secondary school. According to Nadir, this statistic in effect reveals that more than 6,000 students did not complete secondary school and fell out of the system for various reasons.
He said that among the reasons students drop out of school, has to do with the fact that some cannot cope with the “higher mathematics” of secondary school, while some claim they cannot afford to go to school. Nadir said too, another worrying issue is the “culture problem” in which some parents take their children out of school early.
The Minister said that Region Four accounts for most (30%) of all school dropouts.
Nadir posited that the training project is a good means by which the government is seeking to find employment for those who might not have completed school.
The Ministry of Labour has set up an agency designed to cater for the needs of employers. The greatest demand the agency gets is for clerical staff, and as a result, one training site is specifically geared at teaching Office Procedures and basic computer programmes such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint.
The Friendship Oxygen Company is supporting the project in this aspect of the training, providing the venue and computers, and paying a full-time administrator. Twenty-four youths are participating in this aspect of the training, and they make way for an evening class of 24 single parents.
This year, Nadir said $50 million has been allocated to train out-of-school youths and a further $25 million has been allocated to train single parents. Training programmes are held across the various regions and trainees are attached to places of employment to acquire skills in various occupations by which they can gain employment after training.
On-the-job training is supplemented by a period of classroom sessions to provide trainees with entrepreneurial training and life skills education. Trainees are provided with a stipend of $4,000 per month and NIS coverage, and where necessary they also are provided with basic tools and safety wear.
Nadir said that for the year a total of 472 persons have already graduated from the training project. All trainees are issued with a certificate from the National Board of Industrial Training upon completion.
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