A government programme launched in November has already found temporary employment for several residents, Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley announced during a press conference on Friday.

“A number of persons have applied for the programme, and we have already been able to put persons to work in areas such as the much-needed beautification of our roadsides,” he said of the Registration Apprenticeship Training Employment and Development Programme (RATED). “So some persons have been able to obtain short-term employment, and the public has been able to get some benefit in return.”

RATED is a “temporary employment relief and skills development initiative” that government stated will eventually provide three pathways for people between the ages of 16 and 65 who are unemployed or underemployed: short-term employment; apprenticeship and/or training; and education and development.

Bush-cutting delays

Though the premier did not say how many people had been employed through the programme so far, he offered an explanation for why the territory’s roadsides have become overgrown in recent months during the reform process following the Commission of Inquiry.

“Procurement has come under scrutiny, and one of the concerns raised was the way in which the bush-cutting contracts were being issued,” he said. “So we had to halt the issue of those contracts, which supplemented the labour force for roadside maintenance. We were left with a gap while a new system was developed and implemented to get this work done.”

The RATED Programme, he said, is “a lot more transparent” than the previous system and will allow more people to benefit.

“In the upcoming weeks and months, we will be moving forward with implementing the other aspects of the programme, such as the training and apprenticeship,” he said.

The premier encouraged more residents to register their interest in the programme to be added to the database for consideration when other components come on stream.

“I want persons to bear in mind that the RATED Programme is not just for roadside maintenance and beautification,” he said. “It is for other types of opportunities as well, so please register your interests — and registration will help us to identify what types of jobs and skills development are