Seventeen young Vincentians have successfully acquired skills in computer networking and repairs after completing the CompTIA A+ and CompTIA Network+ courses.
The young persons completed the courses under the Rapid Training and Skills Development Programme, a component of Government’s Zero Hunger Trust Fund (ZHTF), Initiative. The computer certification courses lasted approximately 13 weeks and successful participants then went on to participate in a six-month paid apprenticeship programme, which allowed them to benefit from critical on-the-job training. The ZHTF Initiative is being administered by the Ministry of Economic Planning, Sustainable Development, Industry, Information & Labour.
Speaking at a ceremony on Tuesday 27th June to celebrate the successful completion of the first cohort of persons to be trained, Director of Economic Planning Laura Anthony Browne, explained that the project aims to develop skills which are important in improving the employability and potential productivity of the population, noting that this is an important tool in reducing poverty and exclusion.
Browne further outlined that the ZHTF currently executes three programs aimed at poverty reduction and specifically ridding Saint Vincent and the Grenadines of hunger. The programs include the ‘adopt a classroom’ initiative where the ZHTF has adopted seven Kindergarten classrooms in six communities in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and provides for them everything they need to attend school consistently.
The second programme offers nutritional assistance to elderly people throughout the country. Under this initiative the ZHTF committee distributes food baskets to the vulnerable elderly who are eighty-five years of age and above. The third programme seeks to fight against unemployability, the main contributing factor of poverty. It is under this particular initiative that the young persons were equipped with the skill-sets to increase their employability.
Speaking at the ceremony, the mastermind behind the ZHTF initiative, Prime Minister Gonsalves explained that a study conducted here in 2008/09 found that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines had done very well, reducing general poverty from 37.5% to 30.2% and indigence from 25.7% to 2.9%. Despite the remarkable progress however, the Prime Minister said that he was still troubled that approximately three thousand persons in the country were still struggling with hunger at certain times. Dr. Gonsalves said that it was then that he came up with this targeted strategic intervention to address the problem and the ZHTF initiative was born.
The Prime Minister then encouraged the young persons who successfully completed the program to make the most of the opportunity, to be focused and forward-thinking. He further advised them to use the training and attachment opportunities as launching pads to further their education and secure their future.
The Republic of China on Taiwan provided some sponsorship for the programme. Speaking at the ceremony, Ambassador His Excellency Baushaun Ger, said that it is a good tool to help in the reduction of poverty. The Ambassador added that the Embassy supports the project and believes that youth employment is an issue of top priority to address, adding that it is a challenge that every country must seek to address.