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Jun 3, 2015

ABTEC Graduates Fifty-five Students in Business Technology

The American Business Technology and Education Center (ABTEC) is preparing students for work by developing their proficiency in specific trades. It’s all in an effort to help the trainees to find jobs and provide for their families and fight poverty and crime. Well, in just under two years, a couple hundred students have passed through the program. Andrea Polanco stopped in at the graduation ceremony for another cohort today where she found out many have been trained, but the challenge is to find the jobs.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Over fifty five students graduated from the American Business Technology and Education Center (ABTEC). Trained in core areas, the aim is to prepare the trainees for the world of work. But the institute says that it has been a challenge for some students to obtain employment.

 

Stephanie Betancourt

Stephanie Betancourt, Deputy Director, ABTEC

“We have three different main programs. We have computer and information technology. We break that up into web development/graphic design and then we extended it to basic computer and programming. And now we also offer customer service, hospitality and sales. We also offer sewing, the sewing program to teach people basic sewing.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Looking at these programs, would you say that you’re preparing students for opportunities that exist? Are there real time opportunities that exist that when they graduate from here they can go out and seek employment?”

 

Stephanie Betancourt

“It’s a little bit difficult to say yes, because we’ve placed some people in jobs. We have made relationships with some of the call centers and they mostly go for the hospitality people and the IT, we focus on it a lot because we know that that is the way that the world is going. In Belize, it is kinda slow.  We have companies that do web development and graphic design and so we have been able to place a couple of students, but not a big, big number. And then the sewing just this year, we have been able to place some students in sewing.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So if you are able to quantify for us, are you able to give us perhaps a percentage of maybe more or less how many of the past students are employed?”

 

Stephanie Betancourt

“I would say maybe thirty percent of the students that come through here are able to be placed in different areas; not necessarily the area that they studied, but a lot of them get placed and we’ve gotten good feedback that they are doing well and they like the jobs and stuff like that.”

 

Rayshia Lopez

And those students not as fortunate, they are still looking for jobs, but they are hopeful.

 

Rayshia Lopez, Hospitality Student

“For the past eight weeks that I’ve learned about the customer service, they teach us about effective communication as well as dealing with customers outside and inside of the organization. So I learn well at this program.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So what’s your plan next? Are you looking for employment or are you already in a program enrolled to start working?”

 

Rayshia Lopez

“Well at the moment, I am looking for employment, but I just keep on keeping my head high. A friend told me about the program and that’s why I got interacted with it. I was like this program could help me with what I should or should not do in the investigation.”

 

Natasha Lewis

Natasha Lewis, IT Student

“The experience is great; it was wonderful. I was recommended by a friend of mine who told me about the program. I tried it out and it was fantastic. I met a lot of friends, I learned a lot about IT. I learned about Photoshop, creating my own website, designing web pages. It was really great.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“What career path are you hoping to take now?”

 

Natasha Lewis

“Well I already head experience in hospitality and customer service so I wanted to expand my knowledge a little bit more and so that’s why I took the IT and I was looking in the newspaper and I  saw some jobs available but the requirements were IT. Right now I am seeking employment in the IT business.”

 

And while skills training is a primary focus, Betancourt says the institute also seeks to develop the students in other ways to be ready for the work place:

 

Stephanie Betancourt

“We feel like if you have a skill, it builds your personality and your person so that you can get a better paying job because you come out of high school or wherever you had formal education and you still don’t have enough to get a good paying job; you are still struggling to pay your bills. So we are hoping that even people who graduate come here and it helps them get a better job.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Andrea Polanco.

 

ABTEC is already accepting applications for two programs scheduled for later this month. The program, which is funded by the U.S State Department, U.S Embassy in Belize, in collaboration with Just Us New York

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