Twenty-seven students graduated from the Employability Skills Training Programme on April 5. (Photo: GIS)

Twenty-seven residents received certificates on April 5 after completing eight modules of the Employability Skills Training Programme.

Dr. June Soomer, chair of the University of the West Indies Open Campus Council, said the programme, sponsored by UWI, the International Labour Organisation, H. Lavity Stoutt Community College and the VI government, was launched during the pandemic to give opportunities to underserved people who were particularly hard-hit economically by the response to Covid-19.

“The primary aim of the course was to mitigate the negative socioeconomic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the socially vulnerable, and particularly women, by inculcating a culture of entrepreneurship and providing participants with the requisite skills to enhance employability,” Dr. Soomer said at a graduation ceremony held on April 5.

The objectives of the eight-module programme included developing positive attitudes towards sustainable enterprises and social entrepreneurship; creating awareness about self-employment and operating a successful enterprise; and preparing individuals to become better employees through better understanding of business, according to HLSCC.

Topics covered under the eight modules included, “What is Entrepreneurship?;” “How Do I Run a Business?;” “Assessing the Feasibility of the Business Plan;” and “How to Develop a Business Plan.”

Programme aim

Dr. Soomer explained that the programme originally registered 46 female and eight male students between the ages of 18 and 55, which she said represents the breadth of students served by the initiative.

“We go all the way up. We have graduated grandmothers and great-grandmothers in our programmes, because, as I said, we have given people a second chance, particularly women, and we are very proud of that,” she added.

During the ceremony, Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration Minister Vincent Wheatley praised the graduates for having “answered the call” to get trained for future work.

“I know that the training has increased the competence of our workforce since 27 persons have been trained and are now better prepared and equipped in the world of work and to add support to the territory’s workforce development needs,” he added.

Future innovators

Dr. Soomer further explained that professional development and capacity building “has been at the heart of the partnership” between the UWI Open Campus and the VI government since the partnership began in the 1980s.

Throughout the Open Campus’s evolution, she said, it has offered “programmes relevant to the development of the territory, whether it was at the level of professional certificates, diplomas, associate degrees or degrees.”

She added, “We now have a very large alumni [population] in the country who can boast of their prestigious and practical qualifications.”