Coordinators of the Belize National Youth Apprenticeship programme are looking to make adjustments after hearing what employers have to say about the apprentices. The programme began 10 years ago, with the aim to reduce crime, through its focus on the development, education and employment of at-risk youth. According to Programme Coordinator, Dianne Finnegan, they are meeting with the employers who are hosting these apprentices to determine what adjustments can be made to strengthen the programme. She noted that the programme has strict rules when it comes to attendance.
Dianne Finnegan, Program Coordinator: “We wanted these employers to get to see their potential while on the job and then after the six months hire them full time. I would say 75%, they’re employed all over. There are some cases where, again because of the level of discipline where the program is concerned you have some that may fall through the cracks where absenteeism, being late, has prevented from actually be considered individuals that the employer would want to take on. So it’s about them, how bad do you want this and how hard you would work in gaining full time employment. Each apprentice gets a stipend, a weekly stipend of a hundred dollars but if they’re one minute late for work that’s $20, if they don’t show up for work that’s $50, if their dress code is not appropriate it’s $15 and you go on and on because each employer gets an evaluation form that they have to evaluate that apprentice every single day. So if you don’t want to have your striped docked then you will make sure that you discipline yourself and be at work every day and produce.”
The program is being facilitated by the Ministry of Education. A new intake of apprentices occurs every six months.