What am I doing? Where is my life going? Where do I want it to go?
These are questions Passport2Success facilitator Shannon Seymour encouraged the 25 youngsters participating in the programme’s third training group to ask themselves.
The participants, who range in age from 17 to 20, were eager to start their 12-week journey to employability after hearing past participants’ commendations and seeing changes in their friends.
Latoya Dixon, 17, who wants to be a medical assistant or administrator, said her number one objective is to find a job.
“I think the programme will help me to be more outgoing and will improve my writing and communication skills. The two-week job experience at the end is especially attractive.”
Kizzie Codlyn, also 17, said she hopes the programme will help her acquire some of the skills she needs to pursue her dream career in criminology.
“I’m inspired by TV programmes and my Aunt Pearl who’s a police officer,” she said. “I’m good with my hands, so I need that kind of involvement or interactive studies.”
The programme is designed with plenty of that in mind. At first, participants will be introduced to the labour law, employment contracts and acceptable business practices.
They’ll practise grammatical skills, learn about communication styles, body language, and barriers to communication.
Then, halfway through, they’ll complete community service projects and résumés, in preparation for work placement during the final two weeks.
Protocol, basic business etiquette, time management, conflict avoidance skills and motivational talks from leading business figures will also fill the agenda.
Commenting on the programme’s growth, Mrs. Seymour said: “The framework remains essentially the same, from the initial April 2010 pilot, because it has proven effective and successful. However, small adjustments have been made based on participant and private sector feedback. The primary difference is that we now have two full-time staff members – one of whom is male – with counselling and mentoring backgrounds.
“There are many psychosocial and emotional issues that our young people face,” she said, “and most often it is these issues which prohibit them from being successful in employment. As a result, I knew that facilitators with counselling experience would be beneficial.”
The new facilitators are Dr. Tasha Ebanks-Garcia, a psychologist specialising in marriage and family counselling, and Phillip Wilson, a licensed addiction counsellor with 20 years of youth mentoring to his credit.
Education Minister Rolston Anglin, who visited during orientation, encouraged participants to persevere through the programme.
Delivering a short pep-talk he said: “At the end of the day, achieving success is about two things – attitude and hard work. You might have two equally talented individuals, but the one with the best attitude will almost always excel. The most difficult things to change are the world and other people. It’s much easier to change yourself.”
The National Employment Passport2Success Programme is a Ministry of Education training initiative that runs four times a year.
Sponsored by Butterfield Group, CML Offshore Recruitment and LIME, the employment preparedness course is designed to enhance workplace readiness skills for 17-to 20-year-old Caymanians who want to increase their employability.