A batch of 85 students of the Sophia Training Centre yesterday graduated from the Youth Entrepreneurial Skills Training Programme (YEST), after completing a six-month course which has guaranteed them a skill.
The youths graduated at a ceremony held at the Carifesta Sports Complex after having completed their respective courses. Some 41 youths withdrew from the course for various reasons.
Six training programmes were made available to the participants: Catering; Office Administration; Information Technology; Refrigeration and AC repairs; Welding and Fabrication; Handicraft and Masonry.
Senior Training Officer David Sookram, noted that the technical vocational programme began on February 7. The programmes for the next course, he said, will commence on October 10 as recruitment will begin on August 15.
Sookram explained that the programme serves to provide unemployed youths and young people between the ages of 16 and 25 with a skill that they can exercise in several options, such as seeking employment, pursuing further studies or starting their own business.
Meanwhile, Minister of Youth Dr. Frank Anthony commended the students for their perseverance and persistence. Anthony noted that it may be coincidental that this batch graduated just two days prior to International Youth Day, another important day to observe. Although it is coincidental, the minister said, it also points out that the work that is done in the Ministry is somewhat unnoticed. “Not a lot of people realise that we run quite a number of training programmes. Just in the youth area, we have a residential programme in the Kuru Kururu Training College and we have these two non-residential training programmes, one is Sophia and one is Smythfield,” he noted.
The Minister also mentioned their training programme at the National Museum, which is available for children who are interested in learning more about museums. This training, he said, is offered especially around the August holidays and is not recognised by many. Recently, he said, 60 children graduated after a week-long course.
Other training he mentioned were what is offered at the National Dance School, where more than 300 students attend at different levels. Also, other training facilities run by the Ministry include an art programme and it has also launched a steel pan project to have music training.
Minister Anthony stated that this is “one way we can contribute to the development of our country but while we make these facilities available, if people do not utilise them, then it hinders our ability to reach out and get more people involved.”
Best graduating trainees and runners-up were: Tiffany Pereira (84%) and Anastasia Phillips (80%), respectively, in the catering programme; Yoconna Fredericks (91%) and Oneka Culpepper (80%), respectively, in the Office Administration and Information Technology programme; Devon Trotman (95%) and Mathew Primo (89%), respectively, in the Refrigeration and AC programme; as well as Khayyan Ahmad (79%) and Uriel Lewis and Akime Mars, who both got 72%, Shaneeza Sampson (89%) and Lashona Rodney (83%) and Andrew Davson (81%) and Julian Ne Paul (76%).
Some trainees considered the course as a great experience and said they have benefitted in many ways. They said they were now better suited to go out into the working world and put their skills to use.