Ministry Of Family And SBA Create Endless Possibilities

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Pictured from left are Senior Youth Officer in Ministry of Family and Youth, Elizabeth Bowen; Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Family and Youth,??Esworth Reid; President of the Small Business Association, Celeste Foster; Business Operations Manager, Andrea Taylor; Senior Administrative Officer(Ag) in the Ministry of Family and Youth,??Chauntel Watts-Challenor at the presentation. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Endless Possibilities has become a reality for 30 young people, thanks to the collaborative effort of the Ministry of Family and the Small Business Association (SBA).

Earlier this week, at the Warrens Office Complex, St. Michael, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Esworth Reid and President of the SBA, Celeste Foster, signed a Memorandum of Understanding signalling the commitment of the two entities.

The five-month programme aims to empower young persons between 16 and 24 years with the requisite skills to operate in a work environment, through mentorship and job attachment.

Senior Youth Officer in the Ministry of Family, Elizabeth Bowen, who witnessed the signing, explained that in the first month of the programme participants were trained in interpersonal communication, effective communication, work ethics, sexual harassment and conflict and anger management. She said that this would "mould [participants’] skills as it related to the correct work ethic and appropriate behaviours in the workplace and, generally, [teach them how] to handle themselves in the workplace".

The Youth Officer pointed out that although the long-term objective was for the young people to obtain "meaningful employment", it was first important for them to gain work experience.

She added that having completed the mentorship phase of the programme, the trainees have been placed in various businesses to complete their three-month internship. These include C & G Star Trading; Atlantis Seafood; Kensington Court Inc.; Carters General Store; and Paints Plus, she said.

Ms. Bowen noted that employers were expected to give a monthly evaluation on the interns’ progress, which would determine if there were areas which needed to be reviewed. She added: "There is also psycho-social support being offered by a team of trained counselors which would enable [participants] to address any issues that, from time to time may come up or prevent them from functioning effectively or holistically in their lives."

The SBA’s President lauded the initiative and said it was in-keeping with the Association’s goal of developing an entrepreneurial culture. She stated that this partnership with the Ministry would enable them to teach young persons that entrepreneurship was not only about owning a business, "but it is about a way of understanding how business works so you are able to bring your best into the business world."

Ms. Foster further pointed out that the SBA’s involvement in the Endless Possibilities programme provided a forum for small businesses to partner with government, and work with young people.

"…As we bring these young people into our businesses and show them how we do business from our perspective, we expect that it would motivate them to own their own businesses or allow them to become better employees as they go on, or even…motivate them to be successful in whatever their field of endeavour is," she explained.

Affirming that the programme was not a short-term project, Ms. Foster stated that "it is another step in bringing entrepreneurial thinking and creativity and innovation to the youth within the society."

sharifa.medford@barbados.gov.bb??

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