JIS News

Seven months after the Japan embassy and the Board of Cornerstone Ministries signed a US$76,483 grant contract to establish an automotive training centre at Cornerstone’s Connolley Avenue facility in Kingston, things are set to get under way.
Managing Director of Cornerstone, Randy Finnikin tells JIS News that as of Monday, March 15, a batch of 22 youth from the Allman Town, Swallowfield, Nannyville and Fletcher’s Land communities will begin training in automotive electrical and mechanic areas under an interim programme, which has been developed. The interim phase should last over the next four to six weeks by which time the centre should be fully equipped.
Mr. Finnikin says the response to the programme, which targets persons 17 years and over, has been positive although persons initially struggled with the time factor, as the course will be offered on a fulltime basis in one-year cycles.
He informs that the training will cover a variety of specialized areas ranging from engine performance, diagnostics, auto electrics and suspension to other components.
“It will be a modularized approach but at the end of the period they (trainees) would have had a comprehensive knowledge of the technology involved in automotive repairs and servicing,” he states.
The Managing Director says it is advisable that following successful completion of level one, individuals proceed to job placement, which the centre will also facilitate, while doing a level two part-time, as the equipment allows for advanced training including supervisory management.
Mr. Finnikin notes that the initiative has all the marks of a ‘unique’ social partnership. He explains that the respective community groups of Swallowfield and the greater Allman Town joint citizens organization were charged with mobilizing the individuals from the communities and recommending them to the centre and in some cases administered the diagnostic test in the communities.
Furthermore an agreement has been made whereby the communities sponsor the students by paying $500 for each participant, which is the only cost they are required to pay for the year. However, the students are required to give a minimum 50 hours community service that has to be verified and endorsed by a member of the executive council in each community. “The spin off ought to become evident in the communities,” Mr. Finnikin notes.
Further linkages will see HEART/NTA, providing the training material and instructors to deliver the curriculum and providing certification once the facility is complete and the equipment is in place.
“I really believe the sky is the limit, we are going for not just level two certification with HEART but we certainly would want to go for other certification,” the Managing Director states. Additionally, he says, the facility when completed will cater to other persons in offering a number of evening and weekend courses to respond to the needs of the industry.
“We are excited about the prospects there,” he adds.The project is funded under the government of Japan’s Grant Assistance to Grassroots Project (GGP), which has benefited Jamaica for over eight years. During this time it has funded over 40 projects.
Commenting on the alliance with the Japanese embassy, Mr. Finnikin notes that although it was intended to be a “one time” aid, the centre was striving to make the project one of quality in the hope that they would continue to support the facility and possibly fund similar projects elsewhere in the Island.
The Christian organization, which was founded by Doug and Lorna Kessner who came to Jamaica in 1986, began its programme by teaching tradesmen from various Industries in the fields of Woodwork and Welding.
Classes are offered in Christian Principles, Math, Drafting and Wood Theory. In 1993, new doors began to open for the Ministry, and its programme was expanded inside the Jamaican prison system to include Gun Court where rehabilitation of prisoners started.
In 1994, Cornerstone was further expanded to include the General Penitentiary, where both prisoners and warders were eager to participate in the programme. Agriculture has been added to the curriculum to train men in farming and potentially feed most of the prison population.

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