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At their graduation last Friday, in Carifesta Sports Complex (formerly Guyana National Service Sports Complex) on Carifesta Avenue, in Georgetown, officials said the group is now equipped with marketable skills, having come through the eighth technical vocational training course conducted by Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport.
Senior Training Officer Tessa Stephens reported that the graduates were trained in specific areas, including a three-month welding and fabrication pilot project which began in December last year, as the fifth component of the scheme.
Another batch will be coursed in all five skill areas commencing in May but, previously, Sophia only had facilities to accommodate a limited number of trainees.
Twenty of the Friday graduates were awarded certificates in Office Procedures and Information Technology, 15 in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, a similar number in Welding and Fabrication and 10 in Straw Craft.
Fifteen of the batch attended full-time classes and 16 were part-time students.
Stephens said all have been empowered with employable skills and given the opportunity to build self-esteem and make themselves marketable for jobs.
She acknowledged generous contributions to the development and success of the training by several organisations and agencies and commended them highly for their input.
Among the benefactors named were Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS), Demerara Distilleries Limited (DDL), Wieting & Richter Limited, Water Chris Hotel and Bar, Transport and Harbours Department (T&HD), Museum of National Arts and National Cultural Centre.
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Ms Gail Teixeira, who addressed the Friday gathering, pointed out that the process was designed specially for young people who did not complete their education in school.
She announced that her Ministry plans to extend the benefit to others in New Amsterdam, Berbice, in the drive to make more youths countrywide employable.
Teixeira warned that school dropouts are more at risk to anti-social activities.
“This is an important stepping stone, which allows them to get into a programme and make themselves marketable,” she offered.
Teixeira said the programme was conceived on the assumption that the majority of young Guyanese are “not bad” and “are not the problem”.
She said youths need a range of opportunities from which to make choices and the YEST plan provides them.