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Sep 26, 2007

Training programme helps jobless prepare for work

Story PictureFinding a job: It’s a concern that is always with us, whether economic times are good or bad. Ask an unemployed Belizean and he or she will tell you that there aren’t any around. At the same time a business owner will say that it’s a challenge finding qualified workers. Today News Five’s Janelle Chanona visited an underutilised programme that’s trying to bridge the gap.

Laura Caceres, Job Seeker
“Good morning, house of … , how may I help you …I neva ready.”

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
As part of the Labour Department’s ongoing employment training courses, this morning job seeker Laura Caceres learnt how to answer the phone. She had a rocky start but soon…

Laura Caceres
“Good Morning, House of Magic, how may I help you?”

On the last Wednesday of every month, National Coordinator for Employment and Enterprise Development Merilyn Young hosts an all day workshop for people like Caceres. Attendees get interview tips, learn how to write a resume and cover letter, and set employment goals for themselves.

Merilyn Young, National Coordinator for Employment and Enterprise Development
“People have no idea what type of job they want to do. They come here to our offices and we say, “What type of job you want to do?” and they say, “Anything” or they would say, “Anything in tourism”. So we would say, ‘alright, do you want to do housekeeping?’, an they say ‘oh no no no, I want to do receptionist.’ So we try to get them to answer questions about themselves and about the type of jobs that they want to do, because we don’t want them to get a job because they need the money. We want them to get a job that they want to wake up and go to everyday.”

The course is free but interest has been minimal. Only three people showed up for today’s session. However Young says the men and women who have attended the training workshops have seen the benefit of the classes.

Merilyn Young
“We’ve had people tell us that the training helped them to get a job easier. They also improved on their communications in their own personal lives because we talk about communication and we know that the body language also says a lot about a person. So it’s very important that people try to come and attend this training so that they can get a job, because jobs are out there. You look in the newspaper every week, employers call us and we have some jobs that we can’t fill because people are not sure what they want to do, or they don’t have the skills and they don’t want to attend the training. So we want to encourage job seekers to come in and visit us at the Labour Department in their district and let us help them to find the job that they want to do.”

And if you want to work at a meat packing plant in Canada, the Labour Department is currently screening applicants for an international corporation interested in hiring a hundred Belizean men to work at its Alberta facility.

Merilyn Young
“It’s something like Running W where they have the cattle farm, and then they do the slaughtering and they do some level of processing of the meats. So I think it’s a good opportunity for Belizean men that meet the criteria, for them to go and have this experience. It’s a two year contract, however you work for a year, you get your holiday, you can come back home and then you go back again for another year. And they’re looking at this as a long term thing so I think that is one of the reasons why they target the younger audiences.”

While successful applicants will have to pay for the cost of a Canadian visa, all travel expenses will be assumed by the company. Reporting for News Five I am Janelle Chanona.

According to Young, the Canadian company is offering to pay the guest workers approximately twelve U.S. dollars an hour. Interested persons are asked to please contact employment officers in the districts or the Labour Department office in Belize City. If you would like to participate in the customer service relations training, sessions are held on the last Tuesday of the month in Belmopan, and on the last Wednesday of the month in Belize City. Weekly training in Job Preparedness is held in Belize City every Friday morning.

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