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Premier and Minister of Finance of the Virgin Islands Dr. the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley said placements have been made for several applicants under the Government of the Virgin Islands Registration Apprenticeship Training Employment and Development (RATED) Programme.
The programme, launched in November of last year, is a new temporary employment relief and skills development initiative that provides three pathways for people between the age of 16 to 65 who are unemployed or under-employed. The programme seeks to obtain opportunities through short-term employment, apprenticeship and/or training, education and development, thereby, empowering them through work and training opportunities.
Speaking at his recent One-on-One press conference, Premier Wheatley stated that several persons have applied for the programme and placements have already been made for several applicants.
“We have already been able to put persons to work in areas such as the much-needed beautification of our roadsides. So, some persons have been able to obtain short-term employment, and the public has been able to get some benefit in return," Premier Wheatley said.
The Premier sought to remind the public why the bush on the roadsides has become overgrown in the last few months; noting the procurement process has come under scrutiny with concerns raised on the issuance of the bush-cutting contracts.
“We had to halt the issue of those contracts which supplemented the labour force for roadside maintenance. We were left with a gap while a new system was developed and implemented to get this work done. The RATED Programme is a lot more transparent and will allow more persons to benefit from these kinds of opportunities than under the previous system," Premier Wheatley explained.
He further added that in the upcoming months, the government will press ahead with implementing the other aspects of the programme such as training and apprenticeship.
The Premier encouraged more people to register their interest for the RATED Programme to be added to the database for consideration when other components come on stream.
“I want persons to bear in mind that the RATED Programme is not just for roadside maintenance and beautification. It is for other types of opportunities as well, so please register your interests – and registration will help us to identify what types of jobs and skills development are in higher need than others,” the Premier said.
The Government of the Virgin Islands remains committed to creating employment opportunities for citizens.