Honourable Dr. Natalio D. Wheatley
Premier And Minister For
Environment, Natural Resources And Climate Change
At The Fifth Sitting Of The First Session
Of The Fifth House Of Assembly
Tuesday, 31st October, 2023
Madame Speaker, the Registration Apprenticeship Training Employment and Development (R.A.T.E.D.) Programme seeks to provide a pathway for persons who are unemployed or who are under-employed to obtain an opportunity through short-term employment, apprenticeship and/or training and development. The pathways are: (1) temporary employment for short periods providing services within Government Departments where there is a need for additional resources; (2) apprenticeship, on stipend, with public and private sector organisations that agree to partner with the Government in the programme; and (3) training, education and skills development through courses and programmes offered by the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC) and other training institutions.
Madame Speaker, at the end of 15th October 2023, a total of 721 applications were received representing various areas of interest. Persons who applied are contacted to ascertain their job readiness as it pertains to access to the necessary tools needed to perform the various tasks. Requests for Apprentices were processed using a completed temporary staff request form. This form allows the requesting Ministries/Departments to indicate all the necessary details for engaging interested persons.
Madame Speaker, all persons engaged under the programme were issued an assignment letter prior to commencing. The assignment letter highlights the terms and other conditions of the assignment. Once an applicant has received an assignment letter, that information is entered into an electronic engagement database, capturing all the appointment details and taking note of the completion date. This allows for easy information retrieval on engagements to date. At the end of the assignment, apprentices were issued an end of assignment letter and a Certificate of Completion for participating in the Apprenticeship Programme.
Madame Speaker, the short-term assignment allowed for the necessary exposure to employment opportunities with a number of ministries and departments in the Public Service. Interested persons were placed with the Premier’s Office, Ministry of Health and Social Development, Virgin Islands Trade Commission, Department of Information and Public Relations, Civil Registry and Passport Office, Virgin Islands Shipping Registry, Immigration Department, the Department of Labour and Workforce Development, Department of Information Technology, Land and Survey Department, Records Management Centre, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sustainable Development, Ministry of Communications and Works and the Magistrate’s Court. To date there were a total of 53 apprentices in the areas of administration, customer service, data entry and sanitation.
Madame Speaker, engagement under the Programme is for a period not to exceed six months. Most engaging ministries/departments utilised the maximum period to allow them the opportunity to meaningfully execute the assigned tasks and to allow a proper timeframe for fairly assessing apprentices’ performance. This assisted departments with day-to-day tasks as the departments were challenged, in some cases, by the lack of human resources.
Madame Speaker, the Programme has allowed numerous persons to be engaged, while gaining work experience and exposure to the work force. Each apprentice engaged had the opportunity to be engaged on a full time basis, should there be the opportunity to do so within the Ministry/Department; there were a total of six persons who were offered fulltime employment having gone through the R.A.T.E.D. programme. The total funds expended on the programme to date since inception $1,430,753.61; this amount covers the period December 2022 to September 2023.
Madame Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to encourage interested persons to apply to the programme. Yes, I recognise that this is not that fulltime employment that you are in search of, but this could be your opportunity to get your feet in the door, as it were, and prove yourself to that prospective employer. I am also encouraging the business community to partner with us on this very important initiative. Overseas recruitment is expensive, so join us as we build the capacity of the local labour pool.
Madame Speaker, I thank you.