Statement
12 March 2015 - 3:30pm

Statement By Minister For Education And Culture Honourable Myron Walwyn
At The Fourth Sitting Of The Fourth Session Of
The Second House Of Assembly Of The Virgin Islands

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Ministry Of Education Apprenticeship Programme

Madame Speaker, I am pleased to introduce to this Honourable House the Ministry of Education and Culture’s (MEC) Apprenticeship Programme - another initiative to help our young people find employment. As you are aware the Ministry of Education and Culture has made the employment of youth a top priority since 2012 when the Youth Employment Services (YES) was established.

Madame Speaker, Youth Employment Services has provided training and placement for the young people of the Territory and continues to register young people seeking employment. It continues to train the registrants in identifying their strengths and weaknesses and how to use their strengths to overcome their weaknesses. Madame Speaker, the Youth Employment Service has assisted a significant number of young persons in attaining employment since its inception. But unfortunately, not all our young registrants have been employed.

Madame Speaker, in 2014 along with efforts of YES, the Ministry of
Education and Culture executed two (2) developmental workshops and a job expo in Virgin Gorda to further give our unemployed young people opportunities to develop marketable skills and to meet with businesses to explore employment opportunities.

Madame Speaker, after all these efforts there were still young persons registered with YES who had not acquired employment and we recognized that more was needed to be done to assist our young people.

Madame Speaker, the Ministry recognizes that business and industry partners are in need of individuals to fill positions in their establishments but have difficulty finding persons with the requisite skills. All the young people who are seeking employment may not have all the requisite skills, however most establishments are willing to offer training to them.

Madame Speaker, The Ministry of Education and Culture believes that partnering with businesses to employ young people in the Territory will have tremendous benefits to the economy and social development of the country.  The MEC Apprenticeship Programme has been created to bridge the gap. Through a coordinated effort involving business and industry, the Apprenticeship Programme will provide the Virgin Islands with a young, skilled, competitive work force.

Madame Speaker, the MEC Apprenticeship Programme will be available to young BVIslanders/Belongers throughout the Territory, from Anegada to Jost Van Dyke, between the ages of 18 to 29 who have been registered at the Youth Employment Services and are currently unemployed. Madame Speaker we want as many young people as possible to benefit from this programme and so we invite those young persons not yet registered at the Youth Employment Services to do so in order to be eligible for the Programme. To register, they can contact Mr. Albert Wheatley, the Programme Coordinator at the office on Main Street next to the Post office or by calling 494-0045 or 541-1981.

Madame Speaker, the Programme is open to any business or industry partner throughout the Territory who is willing to partner with the Ministry of Education and Culture to provide employment to young persons who meet the criteria for selection for a period of six (6) months. At the end of the six months it is hoped that the young person will have developed the requisite skills so that the employer will retain them in the job. A new cohort of young persons will be selected for the next Apprenticeship period.  The MEC Apprentice Programme will be a long-term feature of the Ministry of Education and Culture.  

 Madame Speaker I am thrilled to state that I have met with several businesses here in Tortola, and every single business has committed to hiring at least one apprentice and are committed to the Programme.

Madame Speaker I invite other businesses on Anegada, Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke, to commit to partner with us and help us give our young people an opportunity to develop their skills that hopefully leads to permanent employment. To sign up, please contact Mrs. Brenda Lettsome-Tye, Assistant Secretary and the Coordinator of the Programme at the Ministry of Education and Culture at 468-3351 or 541-1132.

Madame Speaker, funding for the MEC Apprenticeship Programme has been provided for in the 2015 Budget and will allow for 85 young persons to be employed. The Ministry of Education and Culture will provide payment for each youth under the Apprenticeship Programme up to a maximum payment of seven hundred and fifty dollars ($750.00) per month depending on the level of skills/qualifications; the employer is expected to match this amount. The youth will therefore earn a maximum total of one thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500.00) per month.

Madame Speaker, we are aware that some young persons who will be participating in the programme will have no previous experience and/or limited skills, while others may have a 2-year or 4 year degree and extensive experience. For this reason the rate of pay will be prorated from a minimum of four hundred dollars ($400.00) for persons who have little or no experience, five hundred dollars ($500.00) for persons who have acquired a 2 year degree to the maximum amount of seven hundred and fifty dollars ($750.00) for individuals who have a degree or working experience.

Madame Speaker in keeping with the laws of the Territory, the payment of Payroll Taxes will follow the current schedule. Contributions to the Social Security Scheme will be made by the Government, and the Employer, as per the current rate. Direct payment will made to the employee by the Government.

Madame Speaker, we plan to launch the MEC Apprentice Programme with a Job Fair on 30th March 2015. To give our eligible YES registrants the best possible chance at success, the Ministry of Education and Culture will provide additional training for them from March 23-27 2015 to fine tune their interviewing skills, soft skills and assist in making them job ready before the job fair.

Madame Speaker the MEC Apprenticeship Programme benefits our youth, businesses and the community in many ways.

The Youth gain opportunities to explore possible careers and enhance skill development while developing workplace responsibility and positive work habits and attitudes. They will be exposed to opportunities for leadership and have the opportunity to learn from skilled professionals.

Through participation in the MEC Apprenticeship Programme, Employers are provided an opportunity to help prepare future workers, reduce their costs for recruitment and training and improve employee retention, while building a skilled, home grown work force.

Additionally, Madame Speaker the MEC Apprenticeship Programme will benefit the Community by providing an informed, competent and productive work force, enhancing awareness of local employment opportunities, and building the foundation for a more productive local community.

Madame Speaker, once again I invite businesses that have not signed up to be a part of the MEC Apprenticeship Programme and to do so by contacting
Mrs. Brenda Lettsome-Tye in the Ministry of Education and Culture. As stated above, the benefits for the Youth, Businesses and the Community are tremendous. I wish to give sincere thanks to the all the businesses who have committed to partnering with the Ministry of Education and Culture in providing employment opportunities for our youth and are committed to making the MEC Apprenticeship Programme a success and to the staff of the Ministry for working to put the programme together.

Thank you Madame Speaker.

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