Today the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport held its tenth intake of the apprenticeship program. Coordinator, Dianne Finnegan says the program focuses on young people between ages 16 to 29, who have dropped out of school, have come into contact with the law and single mothers. Under the program these young people are able to go back to school and work.
“This is an opportunity for these young people to be able to get back on track with their lives by getting a high school diploma, by furthering there education and by becoming full time employees in the field of work that they once thought would never be possible because they made mistakes along the way and they feel as if though they cannot accomplish their dreams, their purpose in life. The program lasts for six months and what happens is that we work with over a hundred employers who would say, I don’t mind bringing this person on board and what they really do is help them. Guide them along where knowing what the work place is all about; the expectations. So punctuality, attendance is crucial. It’s a program of discipline. The employer does not pay the apprentices, it’s the Ministry of Education that pays them so they get a weekly stipend of a hundred dollars which helps to tie them over. During the period that they are in the program every Friday, they work for four days per week: Monday to Thursday and every Friday we have kind of a family gathering. We all come together and that’s where we get to hear their concerns, what are the challenges that they are facing, how it is going at home, the response and feedback from the employers. It’s the full circle in order to bring about a whole youth, that they are now well rounded and appreciative of the opportunities given to them.”
This year, seventy-five persons were accepted into the program. It started in 2010 with 25 young people entering the program. The number has risen to as much as 150 young people who have accessed the program at a given time. To date over a thousand young people have entered the program.