Twenty-four graduates of the Caribbean Vocational Qualification programme were honoured during a ceremony last Thursday at the Virgin Islands School of Technical Studies.
They received congratulations from Deputy Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley, who also offered a warning.
“In the past, it would be commonplace for persons such as yourselves just to go to the government and say, ‘I want a job,’ and sometimes persons got jobs regardless of qualifications,” said Dr. Wheatley, who is also the minister of education, culture, youth affairs, fisheries and agriculture. “That is not the situation today. The premier and minister of finance is telling you that we cannot employ more persons at this time. That’s why I am here to encourage the young people to start thinking about opening their own businesses.”
VISTS Principal Andrew Francis told the students that they are ready to enter the workforce if they choose.
“This certificate states that you are qualified, you are competent and you will be able to fit right into the world of work,” he said, adding, “It is a global certificate, so once you leave the shores of the BVI you will be able to present this certificate to say that ‘I am competent as an automotive technician; I am competent as a cosmetologist; I am competent as a commercial food chef or bartender.’”
Mr. Francis added that past VISTS students also have moved on from the institution into tertiary institutions in the United States because of the foundation they received from the school.
“No matter where you go, technical vocational studies is the drive of the economic growth,” he said.
The Caribbean Vocational Qualification is administered by the Caribbean Examinations Council, and the VISTS is the only school in the territory that offers it, according to government.
Graduates earned certificates in various disciplines: motor vehicle repairs, bartending, food and beverage, commercial food preparation, and cosmetology.
Student respondent Noah Spencer, a past graduate, advised graduates, “Even if all you can do is tighten a log, you have a certificate that says you are the man to tighten the log. Show off your certificate to say, ‘I am the one for this.’”
The graduation ceremony is posted on government’s Facebook page.