The first batch of young participants in Government’s Job Start Plus programme on Monday joined a week-long workshop to prepare them for the world of work, whether for an organisation or as entrepreneurs.
As the workshop opened, Minister of Labour Colin Jordan said the youth unemployment rate prompted the initiative, which is aimed at young people with no work experience but out of school.
Jordan said: “In 2017, there were 14,100 young people of working age, but of that number, 29.3%, or three out of ten, were unemployed.
“Now we know young people go to school to train in different areas not only to put that training into practice, but also to earn money so they can buy the things they want.
“Another dilemma many of them face is that they may be well qualified to do a job, but they are at an immediate disadvantage if the employer calls for work experience and they have not had any, which can be very frustrating.”
Jordan, himself a former human resources manager, shared some tips with the 50 students gathered for the workshop.
First, he told them that even if they might not have performed well academically at school, this programme would enable them to redeem themselves.
He also reminded them that there were some aspects of work life that they would not necessarily learn in a school.
The Labour Minister said: “Too many young people leave school without certification, which sometimes causes older people to say you have wasted your time at school, but we are not giving up on you.
“With this programme you can redeem yourself, as it will show you there are multiple pathways for employment.
“Another element of it is the school to work transition, because while school prepares you from a theoretical perspective, it does not create independence or the ‘go-getting’ skills you need in the world of work.”
Jordan encouraged the candidates to share their ideas with their peers and older people around them, and to continue doing so even if they faced criticism or any other negative feedback.
“Young people bring fresh ideas wherever they go.
“Bear in mind that even though you are young, you can think for yourselves.
“Share your ideas with family members, at school, work and church.
“Sometimes you will speak to people who may not be interested in your opinions, but don’t let that daunt you.”
He also advised them to pay attention to their work attire, punctuality and communication skills as they interacted with other people.
The Job Start Plus programme will run for eleven months and pay the students a weekly stipend of $150. A number of businesses of all sizes along with tradespeople have so far come on board with it, and Jordan said Government would help foot the stipend bill for some of the smaller operators who may not be able to afford the full $150 each for the 3,500 students expected to participate in the venture annually.