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Dec 11, 2019

The Youth Apprenticeship Program Turns 10; 60 Graduate

The popular Youth Apprenticeship Programme concluded today with a ceremony at the Radisson Hotel. The group of young men and women will be knocking on doors and hopefully get the opportunity to get jobs to earn a living. Some of the past graduates are testimony that the programme paves the way to a better quality of life. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

Sixty Belize City youths proudly received their certificates of completion today at the Radisson Fort George, having met all the requirements and excelling during the six-month Youth Apprenticeship Programme for 2019. The young men and women are the tenth cohort of the programme, which was established back in 2010. Overwhelmed about reaching this milestone, coordinator Dianne Finnegan spoke on the success so far.


Dianne Finnegan

Dianne Finnegan, Coordinator, Youth Apprenticeship Programme

“My youths choke me up because I always tell them just surprise me. I don’t attend their graduation practices because I want them to be themselves and so I don’t know what the agenda is until I get here and what can I say, if society does not see that the greatest asset in this country are young people, something is wrong with them. So who doesn’t want to celebrate them, that’s their business, but I am super proud of these young people.”


Among the graduates were at least thirty young men, believed to have been at-risk, but wanted to become productive citizens in society. So what’s next for these graduates?


Dianne Finnegan

“Some of them are fully employed so they go back to work on Monday and I am super proud of them. Those who didn’t make it, they continue through the apprenticeship programme where we provide them with job letters and we continue to look for job opportunities for them because often times the employers would call us back and then bring them on full time. So we really keep close contact with them.”


Duane Moody

“I know a number of them are also furthering their education, have applied to tertiary level and high schools.”


Dianne Finnegan

“It’s mandatory. They must get their high school diploma; they must go all the way to the type. There must be no reason why they cannot reach their level of greatness. This is a second chance programme and we must do that all the way to the top.”


While several persons who participated in the programme over the past ten years some have since lost their lives to gun violence, hundreds more have gone on to live successful lives, having a job and achieving an associate’s and in some cases, a bachelor’s degree. Guest speaker, Tanya Bowen was one of the first apprentices of the programme and is achieving her bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Belize come June 2020. The mother of one is also a homeowner and is working. She offers advice to the graduates.


Tanya Bowen

Tanya Bowen, Secretary, Youth Apprenticeship Programme

“To be honest, everybody’s journey will be different. My journey was rough. When I started, I had my own personal challenges; I mean, it wasn’t something easy first of all to meet the requirements of the programme. I mean sometimes your basic needs—like food, shelter, water—those are the things and if you don’t have those, it’s hard for you to move on to the next step. Many of these youths come in with that same problem. Support is needed all around; most importantly the families, we need support there. In terms of the basic needs, we need to link them to the resources that the systems in Belize City offer.  The advice I would give to them is to stay positive; stay connected to the people who can help you along your path because the easiest thing to happen after you leave the programme is to get distracted because you go back to the same environment. So you gotta be strong, you gotta stay with people who can get you somewhere, not the same environment where all the negative is happening.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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