JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The pilot, undertaken from February to August, exposed new tertiary-level graduates to the world of work.
  • Shadee says the experience has sharpened her skills in communication and team-building and helped to boost her confidence.
  • Of particular benefit was the empowerment and voluntarism session.

Beneficiaries of the National Youth Services’ (NYS) Graduate Work Experience Programme (GWEP) have given the initiative good reviews following a six-month pilot.

The pilot, undertaken from February to August, exposed new tertiary-level graduates to the world of work, through placement in the NYS offices.

The programme is designed to provide work experience for graduates aged 17 to 24 years and address the long standing problem of graduates not being selected by employers, because of their lack of work experience. Shadee Grant, one of the interns, who participated in the pilot project, tells JIS News that it was an opportunity to get valuable work experience and to give back to society.

A recent graduate of the Northern Caribbean University (NCU), she assisted with the promotion, planning and co-ordination of the NYS Summer Employment Programme.

“It was eye-opening to know that it takes so much effort to co-ordinate a programme that is so important and has been around for so many years,” she says, noting that every day there was a new task to fulfil.

Shadee says the experience has sharpened her skills in communication and team-building and helped to boost her confidence.

“You have to be a very hardworking person, dedicated, you have to be very flexible and be able to do more than one tasks simultaneously,” she points out, when asked how she managed on the job.

Though she had to make some sacrifices, including relocating from her home in St. Ann to Kingston, Shadee tells JIS News that she would gladly encourage other young people to participate in the programme, noting that “it would help them to make one step further into the world of work.”

“I would advise any person that is interested in participating in the programme to give it a try. With the right mindset and the right work attitude it would be beneficial to them,” she notes.

Shadee, who has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Work, is looking for a job and says she is willing to work outside her area of expertise or wherever job opportunity is available. “I would take it as another stepping stone. You can use any opportunity presented to you and make whatever you want of it,” she says.

She says she will also be exploring several business ideas with the intention of starting her own operation.

Cecilia Samuels, who also participated in the GWEP pilot, tells JIS News that she learnt of the programme while completing an undergraduate degree at the University of the West Indies (UWI).

She says that of particular benefit was the empowerment and voluntarism session, which exposed her to resume writing, voluntarism and entrepreneurship. She informs that the interns learnt the importance of creating their own businesses as well as “to see themselves as a business and to develop the professional you.”

“You would never think of yourself as a business, and your education and genuine experience as an investment, so the things we learnt while there are going to make us much better individuals when we go out there to another organisation,” she says.

Cecilia is currently pursuing a Masters in Applied Psychology, specialising in youth development, at UWI. After completing her studies, Miss Samuels is planning to work in youth development.

With the successful completion of the pilot, the NYS, on Monday (November 18), rolled out the full GWEP, with the first batch of 30 interns assigned to organisations in the parishes of Clarendon, St. Catherine, Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Thomas and Portland.

Executive Director of the NYS, Melvin Smith, says that the agency has identified placements for 200 graduates.  “The first 30 will begin between November and the end of December. We will engage about 100, while the remainder will be engaged during the last quarter of the fiscal year,” he informs.

“We are now matching to ensure that we can identify appropriate graduates for the various positions available for graduates in the various parishes. That has been our current challenge,” he tells JIS News.

Explaining the process of recruiting persons for the work experience programme, Mr. Smith informs that the NYS approaches the placement departments and divisions of universities to assist in identifying graduates, who have no experience and have not yet found jobs.

“We go to the various colleges and universities to obtain the graduates and we reach out to corporate Jamaica asking for partnerships, or persons, who have opportunities in their organisations that would accommodate graduate trainees to partner with us so that we can have appropriate placements,” he says.

“We also reach out to organisations through our parent Ministry (Youth and Culture) and our Minister Hon. Lisa Hanna, who has been very instrumental in identifying organisations and corporations that have an interest,” he continues.

Asked how business entities stand to benefit from the programme, Mr. Smith says they will profit from the meaningful work undertaken by the young people while not having to be involved in their recruitment process, which he says, is sometimes very costly.

“Typically, recruitment is a very high cost endeavour for organisations and also high risk, because they spend money and time to recruit persons and then they put them on probation and some work out and some don’t,” he points out.

Secondly, he states that entities are not compelled to pay the graduates even though a number of partners have indicated that they will assist with either the stipend or by supplementing the stipend.  Each GWEP trainee receives a stipend from the NYS to offset the cost of transportation and meals.

“They get a highly motivated graduate, who wants to work without having to go through all the complexities, time and financial costs of initial acquisition and they now can have these persons assist them with various functions,” Mr. Smith stresses.

He invites businesses that are interested in participating in the programme to contact the Programme Director at the NYS, Omar Newell, at email: onewell@nysjamaica.org or visit the agency’s website www.nysjamaica.org.