Retrenched Government workers will have a more flexible payment plan with the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus as they seek to upgrade their skills, embark on a new business venture or grow their existing operation.
With almost half of UWI enrollment being employed by the public sector, the learning institution said it was necessary that it step in to help those impacted by ongoing Government restructuring.
Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences Dr Justin Robinson said while he was not aware of individuals applying to take leave from study as a result of being retrenched, there were those who were requesting some form of assistance from the learning institution.
“Typically about 40 per cent of our enrollment on the campus, typically social science, tends to be employees of the public sector. So it could be anywhere up to about ten per cent of the persons who might have been facing retrenchment,” said Robinson.
“That is what gave us the urge to respond because we have students, persons who are pursuing degrees here who are among those who are retrenched in the public service. They are uncertain about their future and so came to us and spoke about that and we said we need to respond to that in some very tangible way,” he told reporters during a media briefing on Thursday to outline UWI’s plan to assist.
Dr Robinson explained that the assistance would fall under three main components – retraining and retooling through short programmes, education on personal financing and supporting entrepreneurial endeavours through courses and programmes whether starting or developing a business.
“We thought it would be appropriate for the university to use our expertise and our facilities to respond to persons who may have been impacted by the BERT programme,” said Robinson, who is also the interim Executive Director and CEO of the Sagicor Cave Hill School of Business and Management (SCHSBM).
The various programmes will be offered through SCHSBM and the Centre for Professional Development and Lifelong Learning (CPDLL).
Persons taking the courses through the SCHSBM will have the opportunity to benefit from the Lean Launchpad programme for start-up businesses, which will allow them to engage in practical research in entrepreneurship.
New and existing business owners will also be able to benefit from the school’s new Business Model Canvas programme, which focuses on the operational, strategic management and marketing of a company.
Equally important, the institution will be launching a series of personal financial management for individuals feeling the squeeze.
“We thought it was important as a university that we use programmes that we already have internally and package them to cater to this community that is being affected,” said Robinson, while pointing out that residents who were not affected by the retrenchment could also benefit.
“All of these programmes will be offered in the context of quite flexible payment plans. Our objective here is to have the maximum impact for the largest number of persons,” he said.
Programme Director at the SCHSBM Dr Ann Wallace said it was necessary that the institution “refocuses” some programmes which would address the needs of people in different economic situations and and who need to prepare themselves to be sustainable and to move on.
The courses will focus on marketing and sales, management and procurement management, she said.
“We are flexible with the payment arrangements. We have payment packages that we set out but we also have conversations with individuals to meet their specific needs and we come to a mutual agreement how and when the payment is to be made,” said Wallace.
Individuals are able to enroll in the various programmes at the CPDLL at any time. However, enrollment for the courses and programmes at the CHSBM would be for January and February next year.
Head of the University’s Department of Management Studies Dr Dion Greenidge explained that there would be three programmes offered for affected individuals under the CPDLL – postgraduate models, short courses for self-enrichment and development, and professional development courses.
He said at the end of the courses individuals would leave with a certificate of competence or a certificate of completion and a postgraduate certificate of completion for the postgraduate modules.
The university will be monitoring and following up with individuals who go through the various programmes to see the impact. This will be done with the assistance of the Student Entrepreneurial Empowerment Development project.