Jamaica News: The first cohort of student to be trained under the Universal Service Fund’s (USF) Technology Advancement Programme (TAP) 1000 initiative, will graduate and be placed in jobs within the next four weeks.
TAP 1000 is a training and job placement programme for unattached youth, which facilitated an initial 1,000 participants who were enrolled in computer-related courses from April to June 2018.
The USF’s Marketing and Public Relations Manager, Deleen Powell, tells JIS News that the programme equipped the participants with skills that will better enable them to be integrally involved in the global digital economy.
She says they were trained in digitization; data collection; office etiquette and procedures; professional conduct; resume writing; interview skills; and basic entrepreneurial skills.
Upon graduation, the participants will be placed in various public and private sector entities.
Ms. Powell notes that the experience working with the students has been very fulfilling, adding that “through technology, we would not only be able to connect persons, but help them to transform their lives, as was evidenced with several participants.”
She says there has been significant positive feedback from the participants, some of whom have indicated that prior to joining the programme, they were uncertain about what direction their lives would take.
Ms. Powell indicates that consequent on TAP 1000, their eyes have been opened to other possibilities, especially through the use of technology, adding that they have expressed gratitude for the intervention.
The training, which was conducted islandwide, was the initial phase of a one-year programme that will conclude with a nine-month attachment to an organization.
Ms. Powell says it is, thereafter, hoped that the entities will recruit the participants full time, or that the graduates will use their skills gained to secure employment elsewhere or start their own businesses.
She notes that some of the participants, who were previously unable to hone their skills particularly in leadership, have now developed these through involvement in group projects.
She points out that not only did the programme impact the young people, but also their families and friends.
“We realized that the TAP had a ripple effect, as when we spoke with some of the young men, they explained that prior to being a part of the programme, conversations with their friends (were) not productive,’ Ms. Powell shares.
She adds, however, that “since the programme (started), they are now able to talk to them about things like the importance of being responsible for the things you post on social media, and even opportunities to legally earn money online. So we recognised that we were not only transforming them, but that they too were seeking to transform those around them.”
Ms. Powell says one major challenge encountered during the programme’s implementation was the high number of youth who were unbanked and without birth certificates and national identification.
“We have actually seen where several of them now have a bank account. So they are now a part of the formal financial economy, with access to other financial services,” she states, while pointing out that this enabled them to receive a stipend while they were being trained.
Ms. Powell says the feedback from the students has been very positive, with some indicating that the programme has been an “eye-opener”, and has helped them to improve their self-worth.
Programme participant, Dondre Maxwell, tells JIS News that he was grateful for the opportunity to be a part of TAP 1000, as he dropped out of school at an early age.
He says he fell in love with the computers that were used in the training and can now apply his new knowledge to his everyday life, while adding that robotics, to which he was introduced, is his primary interest.
Dondre points out that his experience better enables him to help others, and wants to “come up with new ideas and develop things that can have a positive impact on Jamaica.”
“The programme has also shown me where I can create employment for myself, and become somebody great,” he further states.
Another participant, Junior McCaufland, who was part of the Kingston student batch, says the training was very informative.
“The information that we received and the knowledge that I have garnered has improved my technical and cognitive skills, which will assist me to advance myself and become a better individual… someone who can add value to society,” he tells JIS News.
He notes the programme came at an opportune time, as he is now re-adjusting to society, having recently settled a legal matter.
Junior says despite working hard in high school and attaining several Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) subject passes, life has been hard, as while he had the ability and willingness to achieve his goals, he lacked the financial assistance.
He says based on the momentum he has gotten from the programme, he will be pursuing further education, noting that some of the skills gained include: communication, data collection, statistical data analysis.
Junior speaks highly of the programme, pointing out that it is a great opportunity for persons who want to turn their lives around.
“I would urge other unattached youth to seek out the avenues that the Government has put in place for the youth to better themselves. The avenues are there… they just need to seek them out,” he argues.
For single mother, Crystal Swaby, who participated in the programme in Spanish Town, St. Catherine, TAP 1000 was very motivational and the instructors “caring”.
She says she has learned how to think critically and has garnered many new skills including working in Microsoft programmes such as power-point and Word, as well as customer service relations and public speaking presentations.
“At first when I had to present in the class, it was scary. But after doing it numerous times, it helped to build up my confidence for the work world,” Crystal shares.
She invites other unattached young persons to pursue programmes like TAP 1000, noting that she has even encouraged her sisters to register for the next round.
Crystal contends that “it’s not where you come from, it’s where you are going.”
Ms. Powell says the USF is looking forward to the programme’s next installment that will target 2000 persons for training.
Source: JIS News