Sat | Sep 21, 2019

Skilled youths look to TAP job market

Published:Monday | April 15, 2019 | 12:09 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Kadian Brown takes a selfie with Trevauney Walker (right) and Rajia Campbell at a graduation ceremony on Thursday for participants who completed a range of training courses under the Technology Advancement Programme.

The nearly 1,000 unattached young Jamaicans who graduated from the first edition of the yearlong Technology Advancement Programme (TAP) have walked through the door of opportunity after gaining a raft of new skills that could make them job-ready for the working world.

Launched in December 2017, the programme, which got under way in early 2018, saw persons aged 18-35, from all 14 parishes, immersed in a three- to four-month intensive course covering data collection, digitisation, office etiquette and procedures, professional conduct, résumé writing and basic entrepreneurial skills, among other courses.

They were then placed in various public- and private-sector entities, where they applied what they had learned in return for job experience, stipends, and promises that they could be considered for permanent employment.

The graduation ceremony for the first cohort of participants in the programme, which is a collaboration between the Universal Service Fund (USF) and the Caribbean Maritime University, took place at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston.

An excited 19-year-old Trelawny native, Oral McBean, told The Gleaner that despite crashing out of high school in ninth grade because of “difficulties and problems”, his vision for the future is much clearer now.

“I am one of the youngest in my group. Most of the others are 25 and up. Most participants stopped going to school. Some previously attained five subjects or more, while some got pregnant,” said the Muschett High School alumnus, who also went to evening classes.

Given an advantage

McBean said participants were exposed to a wide array of studies, including videography, computer-related courses, as well as customer care skills, which also give them a leg-up in finding jobs in the emerging business process outsourcing industry.

“I want to further my education, so this is a start for me. I wish to be a proud graduate of the Caribbean Maritime University,” said a fired-up McBean, who secured placement at the Trelawny Parish Council’s Roads and Works Department as an office technician.

Not so optimistic was a woman who identified herself to The Gleaner only as Reena. She was at the ceremony lending support to her friend, a former bartender.

“I am not saying they are not trying to help, but I am not sure it is sustainable. It has helped my friend because she was just a bartender. Now, because she did a stint as a librarian, it has expanded her vocabulary. She knows now how to dress professionally. It somewhat brightened her life, curbing her more towards being a woman as opposed to wearing really short clothes and portraying typical bartender behaviour.

“On the other hand, can this certificate put you in a stable job? I don’t think it is 100 per cent worth it because after working months as a librarian, she is now staying home. I don’t think she can use the certificate and get another job.”

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Fayval Williams urged participants to use the experience garnered to create the world they want, pledging to do all in her power to support another phase of the initiative.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com