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Jun 10, 2011

1st class of National Apprenticeship Program graduates

The Ministry of Education and Youth began the National Apprenticeship Program in 2010 in an effort to keep young people occupied and provide them with the tools necessary to seek employment. Well, out of the thirty that started the program at the ITVET in Belize City, twenty completed it. The initiative, carried out in conjunction with Human Development, Labor Department and Restore Belize, sought to transform the lives of the youth through work training and academics for six months. News Five was at Thursday night’s passing out ceremony.

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Twenty young students graduated from the National Apprenticeship Program.  The program, which started out in November of last year, successfully trained the apprentices in theory and practical assessments.

Dianne Finnegan

Dianne Finnegan, Coordinator

“Trade skill areas presently being undertaken by the program are as follow: electrical, welding hospitality management, cooking, a/c refrigeration, cable and wiring, secretarial, hotel grounds maintenance and waitressing. On Fridays the apprentices attend classes which consisted of Math, English and Reading. We ensured that we anchored the program within the following three pillars of social interaction, the home, the school and the community.”

While only twenty apprentices completed the program, the measure of success extends beyond them.

Christian Robateau

Christian Robateau, Apprentice

“Ih mean a lot to me ih change my life in a lot ah way because before this program I use to do lone idleness, get inna mischief, mek my ma rail up with me fi suh much hours every evening.”

Kevin Cadle, Asst. Coordinator

Kevin Cadle

“It might sound amazing to say how come we can only think of transforming the life of twenty people but multiply that by ten, or by twelve, or by fifteen which includes their house hold,  which includes peers and which includes community.”

For Tanya Bowen, the apprenticeship program has given her new opportunities.

Tanya Bowen

Tanya Bowen, Apprentice

“First of all I neva have wah job, staying home doing nothing yuh know and no income so I decided fi just do something positive with my life.”

Andrea Polanco

“So now that you’ve completed the program you believe that you’re able to work competently in any work environment in the area that you studied?”

Tanya Bowen, Apprentice

“Yes, yeah because there was a lot that I thought I know that I learned yuh know ih surprise me because the amount of things that I learn while working in the office its great because then like fi me now I have the skills yuh know fi get the job that I want cause fi we weh nuh have the opportunity fi finish college and suh ih hard fi get wah job suh I just wah say dah wah great opportunity fi we.”

Patrick Faber

The Minister of Education said that the integrated approach employed by the program has ensured the preparedness of the apprentices.

Patrick Faber, Ministry of Education & Youth

“We’re hoping that what they received in the program of course is going to assist them.  Notice that they received life skills lessons which are very important for our programs like this that are short term. These young people whether  or not they receive a job or not afterwards, are now better equipped than they were at the time of them getting into this program to face the rigors that face so many of our young people out there today.”

Rhondine Shield

Rhondine Shield, like several others, has been able to secure full- time employment.

Rhondine Shield, Apprentice

“My job was to do cooking because I decide I would like to do cooking in this program so what they did is to place me at Celebrity. So when I just got there the job was very, very hard but I tried to keep it up.”

Andrea Polanco

“And I know you got hired there as well as a full-time worker?”

Rhondine Shield

“Yes from the first three months in the program they hired because they were pleased in my work so I decide I would stay there.”

Michael Young, Apprentice

Michael Young

“I dah say if you nuh really have nothing better fi duh and you just deh out deh suh di heng out. I dah say get inna di program because then one yuh wah learn something, two ih wah keep you off ah di streets and three yuh nuh  nuh wah end up inna no problem with no police because if you deh  out deh suh the police deh done label you as somebody  as deh si you you cudda nuh do  nothing you dah di first person deh come fah. I glad deh nuh label me yet and I had just the right time I come out.”

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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