JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Hundreds of Jamaica’s youth have gained employment over the last two years under the HEART Trust/NTA’s School Leaving Training Opportunities Programme (SL-TOP).
  • The initiative engages private and public sector organisations in providing on-the-job training to young people in a wide range of skill areas.
  • The mission is to bridge the gap between school and the world of work for recent school leavers, age 17 to 23, and increase the productivity of participating firms by managing entry-level jobs and facilitating certifiable training in accordance with national competency standards.

Hundreds of Jamaica’s youth have gained employment over the last two years under the HEART Trust/NTA’s School Leaving Training Opportunities Programme (SL-TOP).

The initiative engages private and public sector organisations in providing on-the-job training to young people in a wide range of skill areas.

The mission is to bridge the gap between school and the world of work for recent school leavers, age 17 to 23, and increase the productivity of participating firms by managing entry-level jobs and facilitating certifiable training in accordance with national competency standards.

In a recent interview with JIS News, Acting Director for Employment and Career Services of HEART Trust/NTA, Althea Smikle, said after completion of the programme, the majority of the trainees matriculate into full-time employment with the participating firm.

She informed that for the two-year period between 2013 and 2015, 1, 382 persons gained employment after training.

Ms. Smikle said the programme initiated in 1982, has recorded tremendous success over the years, and is now attracting an increased number of firms willing to partner for the training of the participants.

For the 2013/14 period, 322 firms partnered with the HEART Trust/NTA to provide training, while 327 participated for the 2014/15 period.

“For the firms, it gives them the privilege to contribute to the product…to get what they really want in terms of an employee. They get to mold this person in the particular way they want and even if the person doesn’t remain with that firm, then they are still contributing to the improved productivity of the nation,” she said.

“It is one of our best programmes; it is well-known, so employers don’t think twice about participating because they understand and they realize the benefit of it. To a large extent, for a company, it gives them that sense of pride to know that they are contributing to nation building,” she noted further.

Ms. Smikle said the SL-TOP has evolved over the years and now has a more stringent process to accommodate a more competitive market.

She said there are also more applicants and participants, as more persons become aware of the benefits of this type of training and work experience.

Participants are required to have a minimum of two Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC) subjects. They are provided with a Placement and Monitoring Officer, and assigned a Trainer.

They are then evaluated through ongoing assessments in the form of tests and the preparation of portfolios relating to the skill areas being pursued. On successful completion of the training, the individual is certified as having achieved a specific skill.

Participants are also paid stipends while participating in the training.

“It’s like a mentorship programme where they are trained on the job, mentored into what is required to function on the job and, at the same time, given payment. So you are training, equipping and empowering yourself and getting some kind of remuneration for it,” Ms. Smikle said.