|YTEPP helping entrepreneurs |
By Sasha Harrinanan Thursday, February 23 2012
ENTREPRENEURS and small businesses are the real drivers of economic growth. We’ve all heard this statement from financial experts and members of government yet most people need either certification or skills to open their own business. That’s why 26 years ago, Government established YTEPP; the Youth Training and Entrepreneurship Partnership Programme.
Today, YTEPP offers a range of vocational skills to young people, particularly those between the ages of 15 and 25.
According to www.ttconnect. gov.tt, the official government website, YTEPP “is an intervention strategy aimed at addressing the issue of escalating unemployment, particularly among young persons between the ages of 15 and 25. YTEPP Limited offers over 80 vocational courses in 12 occupational areas, and training is conducted in six-month cycles. The Programme is open to eligible persons who are interested in entrepreneurship or acquiring Level I and II (craft and pre-craft) technical vocational training,” TTConnect stated. For programme details, visit the YTEPP website (www.ytepp.gov.tt).
Earlier this month (February 8), a graduation ceremony for Cycle 24 was held at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) in Port-of-Spain for 450 young people who had completed their six-month vocational and life skills courses.
YTEPP’s range of courses includes Applied Arts, Auto Maintenance and Repair, Beauty Culture, Construction, Culinary Arts, Electricity and Electronics, Garment Construction and Graphic Design.
Featured speaker at the most recent YTEPP graduation, Chairman of the Metal Industries Company (MIC), David Lee, highlighted the fact that some courses now offered certification in Caribbean Vocational Qualifications (CVQs), which would significantly boost the employment potential of some graduates.
“This graduating class (Cycle 24) marks the first time that individuals from the Draughting and Construction Technician class will be awarded corresponding Caribbean Vocational Qualifications. These occupational standards are more becoming part of the norm, with Trinidad and Tobago in the process of implementing its own national vocational qualification framework, namely the TTNVQs. By streamlining these TTNVQs with the regional wide CVQs, it means then that individuals are receiving qualifications out of this programme that they can use to secure employment in any Caribbean territory,” Lee said.
The MIC Chairman praised those graduates who had gone on to open their own businesses, those who had found good jobs because of their new certified skills and those who had used the programme as entry qualifications to pursue degrees in their respective fields.
Referring specifically to the entrepreneurs, Lee said they had succeeded “in re-engineering their individual economic platforms” and that “these types of activities are crucial to assist individuals in achieving financial independence.”
“Because it seeks to address unemployment, re-training is an effective tool for social development in that it can that it can help to provide access to economic resources but place a lighter burden on the State since (it is) only charged with providing the programme and not with providing welfare or unemployment benefits,” Lee noted.
Testimonials from two graduates of Cycle 24 brought Lee’s words to life for their fellow graduates and the many family and friends who made the trip to NAPA last Wednesday.
Cosmetology graduate and the owner of a brand new salon in Rousillac, Maritza Salina, spoke of the life-changing experience YTEPP was for her as a formerly un-employed single mother of one.
“I was really empowered by this cosmetology course. I wanted a steady income to better provide for my sone but I could not afford to pay for classes. Then I saw a newspaper ad for YTEPP’s course, found out it was free and said I have to do this.
“It was hard at first to get to class because I didn’t have enough money in the beginning but I prayed about it and even though I reached class late the first day, I made it. My teacher was so kind, she lent me passage (money for transportation) for the start, until we got our travelling stipends and I paid her back as quickly as I could. YTEPP’s stipend is key for people who are unemployed or short on funds and I thank you for providing it to us students in addition to teaching us for free,” Salina declared.
Another graduate of Cycle 24, Sean David Joseph, has since been employed by High Tower Hydraulics Limited, having excelled in YTEPP’s Fluid Hydraulics course.
Joseph was enthusiastic in his praise for the tutors, course supervisors and life skills coaches provided for each course.
“Retraining and life skills go hand-in-hand and I realised how valuable the mock job interviews we did were when I had to go through the exact same interview panel at High Tower. I also have some advice for my fellow graduates - Don’t stop learning, don’t let anyone stop you from being the person you were meant to be.”
Joseph had some advice for the YTEPP administrators too. He would rather a bus pass to get to class than a monthly stipend.
“Because the stipend comes at the end of the first month of class, some of us find it hard to reach class especially if you’re living far. I really appreciate the stipend but perhaps a bus pass for each YTEPP student would make more sense,” Joseph said.
After the approximately three-hour long ceremony; each graduate who was present, and most were, collected their certificates individually, examples of the work done by each class was on exhibit in the atrium of the Lord Kitchener Auditorium. One group gave away their baked goods while others sold their cupcakes and sweets. An agricultural group was also busy selling young seasoning plants. All in all, it was a long but fun-filled and profitable day for many and they all said they were looking forward to brighter economic futures, having graduated from YTEPP.