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Mar 19, 2015

ABTEC Graduates Class of 2015 in Information Technology

Over a year ago the American Belizean Technology Education Center was opened in Belize. Since then, close to three hundred students have graduated and majority have earned gainful employment. The program, which is funded by the U.S State Department, U.S Embassy in Belize, in collaboration with Just Us New York, trained another batch of students who earned their certificates today. Andrea Polanco was at the graduation ceremony this morning and files this report.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Over thirty students graduated from the American Belizean Technology and Education Center (ABTEC) and received certificates in programs like Information Technology, Sewing and Customer Service. While the program prepares students with skills to go into the workforce, it is hoped that it will have an even greater impact on society:

 

Mtgeo Washington, Director, ABTEC

Mtgeo Washington

“What this program is about is called CARSI, which the US State Department and the country of Belize is trying to sway people away from criminal activities and that is through providing jobs and preparing them. For them to be able to do the jobs, we have to enhance their skills. So, we decided to come up with three types of subdivision in skills that we thought would be good for Belizeans. Before we start our program, we do job readiness training and we show them how to interview for jobs, how to present themselves at jobs, how to look people in the eyes and express themselves. For those who we feel need to be upgraded as far as the image and the writing, we work with them in those areas. So that is why our program is so unique. The we build relationships with other companies and we ask those companies, what do you think our students need to know and they come in and tell us and we try to teach that to our people.”

 

Students enrolled in the eight weeks programmes say that it has prepared them for employment:

 

Kayla Ann Thurton, Customer Service Graduate

Kayla Ann Thurton

“It was a program I found over facebook and when coming here I thought it was going to be just something. But coming here it was a great experience. They teach us all the basic stuff we need to know and things we didn’t know they give us the full run down and everybody is great. It was a great eight weeks.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Do you think you’re ready for a job; a full time job?”

 

Kayla Ann Thurton

“Definitely. I have the equipment and the certificates as well.”

 

 

Elizardo Novelo, IT Graduate

Elizardo Novelo

“IT programme is basically  graphic designing and banner designing and web building. That’s basically what we did and having fun with each other.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So, what motivated you to join this programme?”

 

Elizardo Novelo

 “Well, my mother did the sewing program and then she told me about the IT and from when I was at high school, I liked IT and photoshop gave me a lot of motivations as well.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So you definitely learned new things?”

 

Elizardo Novelo

“Yes, I did and winning the banner competition showed me a lot because coming into this, photoshop and those things were a little bit difficult for me but winning that showed me that I have a lot of potential in it and that is what I am going to pursue now.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Do you think the programme adequately prepared you for the job force?”

 

Elizardo Novelo

“Yes, it did because I learned new things and how to fix things and do websites and stuff. When someone bring you something what to do and how to fix it.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So what’s next for Elizardo? Are you going to look for a job?”

 

Elizardo Novelo

“Yes, ma’am. It’s out in the workforce so I just hope someone hire me.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Before you started the program, what were you doing?”

 

Elizardo Novelo

“I graduated from ITVET becoming a certified chef.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“And now you’ve added IT to your resume?”

 

Elizardo Novelo

“Yes maa’m adding graphic designing and website building to my resume.”

 

Washington says ABTEC has partnered with organizations to offer internships to some of the newly trained men and women

 

Mtgeo Washington

“We have already collaborated with a web company that will take our students for internship purposes for them to move forward. As far as the Customer Service and Sales, we have signed contracts with couple companies right now that we will bring them in and if they continue to do well, they will continue to work with those companies. Also for sewing and tailoring. What I should have mentioned is that we give mini grants and we may pick three students after a business course and give them a mini grant to do their own little business.”

 

The free program targets anyone interested in learning new skills, but Washington says that a special emphasis is put on vulnerable groups:

 

Mtgeo Washington

“Our group is a diverse group. We have some people who went to college but most of our people did not complete high school; most of them. Most of them are those people who are hanging the streets that have no other opportunities available to them. So we bring them in here and give them a very good training and they can go out there and get jobs for themselves.”

 

ABTEC hopes to expand the program to other parts of the country, including Stann Creek. It is already available in Orange Walk and students are invited to sign up.

 

Andrea Polanco for News Five.

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