Thirty-nine teenagers have been challenged to effect positive change in their communities and the wider society.
The challenge was issued by Nigel Baptiste, managing director of Republic Bank Ltd (RBL) during the graduation ceremony for the 32nd edition of Republic Bank's Youth Link Apprenticeship programme.
"We ask that you use the competence you have gained to change the social landscape that currently exists within our country. We all need to work together to make this country a place that all are proud to call home."
Speaking at the May 29 event at RBL's head office, Park Street, Port of Spain, Baptiste urged the youths to "convert the mindset of many from 'No, I can’t!' or 'Why bother?' to 'Yes, I can!' End the cycle of nepotism, cronyism and corruption that tear at the fabric of our national ethos. If you take nothing else away from this programme, if you take nothing else away from this experience, take our five core values and make them your own."
RBL's five core values are customer focus, integrity, respect for the individual, professionalism and results orientation.
The programme runs for seven months and is open to secondary school graduates between the ages of 16 and 19. Baptiste said a common misconception is that the programme was specifically designed to create bankers. "This programme is absolutely not about that."
In fact, the Youth Link Apprenticeship programme has two aims to equip participants with basic training and marketable skills in business-related disciplines in order to improved their career options and to bridge the gap between school and work environment.
During their seven months with the bank, the apprentices are attached to a branch or specialist unit, where they are exposed to various courses in office procedures, personal development, banking operations, customer service and computing.
The bank said the programme is a demonstration of its commitment to the development of the TT's young people. It "hopes to inspire, motivate and instil proper work values and ethics in those who enter the programme."
In addition to learning how to establish their own businesses, those who graduated this year also educated their peers at three schools on HIV and AIDS via the Youth Link Care-A-Van.
Baptiste reminded the teens that the example they set, the way they conduct themselves in life, the way they participate in issues of national importance, are what will make them a leader.
Urging the graduates to be active participants in life, the RBL MD had one more piece of advice for them.
"You are not an outsider looking in. The next steps in your life depend on you being an active participant. You are part of this world, part of this country, part of this society – seeing the good and bad happening right next to you. Our wish for you is that you remain engaged, that you exercise the power you have, to make a difference."