Had it not been for his decision to make use of training offered at the Workforce Education and Development (IWED) Omar Letford would not be the proud income-earner he is today.
Armed with certification in Supervisory Management from the institute, the young man, previously unemployed and unskilled, has been transformed into a productive goal-oriented citizen.
He said the training offered at IWED has provided him with the requisite skills to now be gainfully employed and have a more positive outlook for the future.
“IWED has been one of the most intriguing things that have ever happened to me… (The institution is assisting) people like me, who never finished high school…to come and get training, get (a) certificate to go into the workforce,” he told JIS News at a recent ceremony to officially rebrand the institute as an Accredited Training Organization (ATO).
Mr. Letford said that in addition to the training, he is deeply appreciative of the life lessons he has gained. “One of the things that I remembered from my training is…when you are in the workforce, don’t leave anything to chance, don’t assume anything…. that lived with me throughout that training until now,” he shared with JIS at the function held at the Manpower Centre in St. Andrew.
Dahlia Freckleton, who is also a graduate of IWED’s Supervisory Management programme, described the training as “exceptional”, noting that she “learnt a lot and developed a lot.”
She said that she is doing “exceptionally well in my job now because it allowed me to do an interview and I was selected because of the course that I had done, so I am greatly appreciative of the training”.
IWED, which is owned and operated by Manpower and Maintenance Services (MMS) Limited headed by Audrey Hinchcliffe, was established to provide skills training and equip employees for job readiness.
The institute offers a range of certificate and high impact one-day courses and seminars and effective January 26, 2012, the institute was designated as an ATO by NCTVET, on the granting of accreditation for three of its programmes – Customer Service, House Keeping and Data Entry.
In addition to its new ATO status, IWED is also now an Independent School designated by the Ministry of Education.
IWED has been partnering with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security through its Special Youth Employment and Training programme (SYEAT), the Red Stripe/Diageo Learning for Life programme, the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) and other organizations, to carry out various training programmes.
Ashley White, who is now certified in Business Administration thanks to IWED’s collaboration with the SYEAT programme, revealed that she almost lost hope after graduating from high school with eight Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) subjects, and failed at her first attempt at tertiary education.
“After a three-month intensive course, I was chosen for placement at the Ministry of Labour. I received skills training at IWED that comes in handy every single day,” she told JIS News.
She said she is grateful “for this outstanding institution” that has put her on the path to a brighter future.
Labour Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, who was at the rebranding ceremony, praised IWED for its “vision and steadfastness” as well as its continued commitment to the development of the country’s workforce through education and training.
“I am convinced that as a workforce education institution, IWED will provide the desired learning opportunities and outcomes for its clients,” he said.
Mr. Kellier said IWED’s role is vital, pointing out that well trained, skilled and adaptable labour force is one of the most crucial determinants of productivity enhancement and diversification anywhere in the world.
Executive Director, HEART Trust/NTA, Dr. Carolyn Hayles, congratulated IWED on earning its ATO status, pointing out that an “accredited training organisation is the tool that will allow us, regardless of our size, regardless of the sector, be able to be globally competitive and access any market segment there is”.
She said the beauty of being an ATO is that “no words have to be exchanged. Once the certification is in place, and you cross the border, it is clear that this is an international standard. I know what it is and I can evaluate the person…and allow (them) to go through.”
Also lauding the institute was Director of the National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD), Roberta Brown-Ellis, who stated that IWED gives hope and opportunity for so many young people.
“The statistics have shown that so many (youth) feel so detached from society and from mainstream society and….I believe that the courses and the programmes being implemented by IWED will give our young people that kind of empowerment in terms of building their capacity, so that they are indeed able to overcome the many obstacles, the limitations and challenges that they are experiencing,” she said.
IWED trains employees from institutions on contract with MMS; persons seeking placement through the MMS Placement Agency; persons already in/entering the hospitality, construction and other industries; persons seeking employment in the regional/international job market; and those interested in their own personal growth and development.
The courses are suitable for a wide cross-section of individuals including: front-line supervisors or workers in restaurants and supermarkets; janitors and porters for health service; cashiers, office clerks, waiters/waitresses, receptionists, messengers; housekeepers/office and room attendants; workers in the construction and manufacturing industries; first time employees; and landscapers, gardeners and pest control operators.
Mrs. Hinchcliffe said that since 2000, 147 persons have taken a variety of courses, and 540 persons have been trained through sponsorship by Red Stripe, the Labour Ministry and JBDC.
She noted that IWED, which has had seven years of continuous progress, is grateful for the support of the government, private sector and individuals in achieving its aim of changing communities through training and employment, empowering people and transforming their lives.
“Our joy at IWED and MMS is the development of people to help themselves by training and hiring them. This way, they take themselves out of poverty, help accelerate economic growth and raising their standard of living,” Mrs. Hinchcliffe stated.
If its tagline: ‘Possessing the will to overcome limitations’ is anything to go by, IWED has been giving countless Jamaicans the opportunity to do just that, empowering persons to make something of themselves regardless of where they are in life, and to make a meaningful contribution to the society.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter