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YES programme a huge success in SVG


Between 2001 and 2005, over 3,500 youth registered to be part of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Youth Empowerment Service (YES) programme.

Conceptualized by the ruling Unity Labour Party as part of its programme for Youth Development, the YES programme was designed to target unemployed youths between the ages 16- 30, who were unskilled or semi-skilled, secondary and all-aged school leavers.

The programme has placed over 2,000 persons on job training and other assignments up to the end of 2005, with training time being no less than six months and not exceeding 12 months. This innovative training programme has seen youths being attached to various Government institutions including the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, the Lewis Punette Home, The Mental Health Centre and District clinics within the Ministry of Health. {{more}}

Major primary schools, the Teacher’s College, the School for Children for Special Needs, the Registry, the Police Public Relation Department, Immigration and the National Broadcasting Corporation have all received trainees from the YES programme into their fold.

When SEARCHLIGHT spoke to National Youth Officer, Carlos Williams, he said that although some view the YES programme as an opportunity for employment and a means by which to earn money the programmme is in fact first and foremost a training programme. “What we are really doing is preparing participants for the world of work,” stated Williams.

To this end training sessions cover topics such as interpersonal relationships at the workplace, dress code, Punctuality, language and personal hygiene, conflict resolution and effective budgeting.

Williams told SEARCHLIGHT that he is grateful, as the National Youth Officer, for the millions of dollars that the Republic of China ( Taiwan) has pumped into the programme, describing it as “crucial to the development of the Nation.” He is also challenging other Nations with whom St. Vincent and the Grenadines enjoys good diplomatic relationships to follow the example of the Taiwanese people.

Former Ambassador from Taiwan to St Vincent and the Grenadines Elizabeth Chu was always in high praise of the YES programme as is demonstrated by her statement during a June 2004 handing over ceremony of funding for the programme from her Government. As she addressed the gathering Ambassador Chu said of the YES programme “in St. Vincent and the Grenadines one of the most successful government programmes aimed at empowering young people is the YES Programme.”

She looked at the “strategic partnership between private enterprise and government,” and pointed out that it would “be of practical help in providing a wide spectrum of the population with training opportunities and in helping them to achieve their employment potential.”

She further advised during that speech the following “In any society the welfare and well-being of its young people must be prioritized. “

Among the work-based training of which participants were exposed to include basic Electrical Engineering, secretarial duties, Air Traffic control, Physiotherapy, Dental Care, Auto Mechanic, Landscaping, tour guiding, computer operations and repairs and child development.

“The YES programme cuts down on idleness and is a tremendous assistance in the quest of poverty alleviation,” stressed the enthusiastic Youth Officer. Williams explained that persons attached to the YES programme receive a monthly stipend of $400 which is intended to assist them with transportation and so on, but pointed out that this little money is also being stretched to help meet the needs of many families.

This monthly stipend accounts for 80 percent of the annual funding of the programme while the other 20% contributed to administration, stationary, furniture and equipment.

Akiesha Yearwood is a temporary clerk in the Government Service attached to the Youth Affairs Department of the Ministry of Youth, but two years ago she herself was another youth, frustrated by lack of work opportunity, fresh out of school with no work experience.

Even with her 9 O’Levels and 2 A’Level passes the countless applications she sent out bore no fruit. Then the 20-year-old single mother registered with the YES programme and the rest as they say is history. “I use to think that the YES programme was only for school drop-outs and people who couldn’t do better, but it has turned out to be a great blessing,” stated the bubbly young lady. Now Akiesha even has other YES programme participants being trained under her and she is enjoying the kick-start in life that the programme has afforded her.

If she is to send a message to the ROC on Taiwan it would be quite simple, “Thank you very much for giving me and others the opportunity to make something positive of our lives.”