A record number of people graduated last Wednesday from the 2019 cycle of the vocational skills training programme, following a six month tutelage. The graduation was a gala affair at Parade Grounds, Bacolet.
Exactly 1,372 participants graduated in the skill areas of culinary arts, electrical installation, garment construction, digital photography, ballroom/Latin dancing, mixology, fabric design and masonry, to name a few.
The programme, which is hosted annually by the Division of Community Development, Enterprise Development and Labour saw a total of 79 classes being conducted in 29 skilled areas; 64 being held in the day and 15 in the evening, at a number of community facilities throughout the Island.
In giving a brief history on the vocational skills programme, co-ordinator of the Community Development Department Michelle Burris stressed the importance of economic diversification.
She said, “There is no better way than to empower persons through entrepreneurship with persons graduating from this programme being given the opportunity to take their new-found or developed skill and turn it into a lucrative business venture."
The division's Secretary, Marslyn Melville-Jack, told the graduands "passion, creativity and resilience are the most crucial skills in business" as she congratulated them. She implored them to now put the skills they received over the duration of the programme to productive use, adding they now have a decisive role to play in bolstering the island’s growth prospects.
The vocational programme, she said, has the potency to contribute significantly to the island’s economic development as well as to improve the social status of the residents. Equipped with life skills that allow them to become self-sufficient and empowered, many graduates of this programme have gone on to become successful entrepreneurs, creating their own wealth and generating employment opportunities within the local space.
Staying on the topic of entrepreneurship, she also advised the graduands to develop a global mindset, striving to have global impacts in all entrepreneurial pursuits. She continued that there are viable markets externally for locally-produced products and these must be explored.
"We the people have the power in our own hands to develop a skill and to improve the social and economic well-being of ourselves, our families, our communities and our country," the secretary added.
Bringing remarks at the event, Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles said he was heartened to see so many people graduating from the programme this year. Charles explained that the realignment of this division was done to create an environment for the development of a robust private sector. Specifically, in this case, the change ensures that there is seamless movement between the acquisition of talent and skills and the procurement of either a grant or loan to move into entrepreneurship.