Apprenticeship Programme Gives Work-Experience

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Hearing the comment ???you have no job experience’ may soon be a thing of the past for some young people seeking employment.??

The apprenticeship programme, currently offered by the Barbados Vocational Training Board (BVTB), has been designed to give youth the work experience they need to help them secure employment, build successful careers and have a smoother transition into the world of work.??

This assertion was made by Senior Inspector of Occupational Training at the BVTB, Allan Haynes, as he delivered a presentation at the recently concluded Youth Helping Youth seminar, held at the St. Leonard’s Boys’ School, Richmond Gap, St. Michael.

Mr. Haynes told participants that the apprenticeship programme was the vehicle to use in developing their career path. "Apprenticeship is a system where students who attend colleges and training institutions are given the opportunity to enter into a contract with an employer to receive practical on-the-job training.??

"The apprenticeship programme is a long-term career type programme, where persons are in training for three years.?? This gives young people relevant job experience which is critical to securing employment," he underlined.

Stating that the programme had a practical and a theoretical component, he explained that the practical module was done with an employer, while the theoretical element was completed at a training institution or college, such as the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic (SJPP) or the Barbados Community College (BCC).

Mr. Haynes added that secondary school leavers could also benefit from the course, explaining that once they received a contract with an employer, the BVTB would arrange for the training of school leavers at an institution such as the SJPP.

The Senior Inspector said the BVTB currently offers apprenticeships in a variety of fields including auto body repair, auto mechanics, carpentry, furniture construction, masonry, welding, air conditioning and refrigeration.??

He pointed out that while the board primarily provided ???blue collar" apprenticeships, they were now seeking to expand to white collar professions.

"We are looking forward to launching the programme for ???white collar’ training as well.?? We do recognise that there are a number of BCC and university students who, when they have completed their degrees, can’t find employment because they have no work experience," he said.

While noting that monetary compensation is also an issue which many young people are concerned about, Mr. Haynes stated that persons participating in the apprenticeship programme are considered to be part of the Barbadian workforce.?? "As a result, apprentices are entitled to be paid a weekly wage, receive vacation with pay, sickness benefits and unemployment benefits.?? However, the students are not entitled to severance pay," he declared.

"Recognising that many apprentices enter the job with little or no experience, they are not paid the full rate that a qualified and experienced employee would receive," Mr. Haynes noted.

It was explained that the BVTB had regulated guidelines for the payment of trainees and persons in their first year of apprenticeship are paid no less than 45 per cent of the industry rate.?? When the apprentices develop more skills, wages are increased to no less than 55 per cent and no less than 75 per cent of the industry rate, in the second and third year respectively.

Mr. Haynes remarked that many of the island’s successful organisations have recognised the value of the apprenticeship programme and have used it to develop their businesses.?? Listed among these the Barbados Port Authority, Sandy Lane Hotel, Barbados Light and Power Co. Ltd, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the Arawak Cement Company.??

He stressed that the retention rate of apprentices in organisations, in which they were trained had been high and, he pointed to Simpson Motors as an example, nothing that over 80 per cent of that company’s workshop staff had passed through the apprenticeship programme.

Persons seeking additional information on the course should contact Mr. Haynes, at the BVTB at 621-2882 or 621-BVTB.

shamkoe.pile@barbados.gov.bb

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