Training in skillsets that are lacking on the island is high on the agenda as the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of new Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell announces its intention to “re-imagine” the heavily criticised New Imani programme of the former regime to “specifically train people so that when training is done, they are deployed immediately into the field of employment.”
Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell expounded on this decision during a live interview moments after the Governor-General Dame Cecile La Grenade announced the development of “ambitious initiatives to be rolled out in the next few years,” while delivering the Throne Speech at the opening of the first session of the Eleventh Parliament at Mt. Wheldale last Week Wednesday.
The New IMANI programme, was the flagship “youth empowerment” programme implemented in 2013 by the former Keith Mitchell regime, targeting individuals between the ages of 18-35, to reduce unemployment by providing an avenue for the holistic development of youth, through career orientation, exposure to working environments, as well as involvement in community development initiatives, skills training, and a certification programme for self-development.
The ousted New National Party (NNP) administration was forced to incorporate a “transitioning strategy,” last year as a means to help IMANI graduates find permanent employment, which had presented significant challenges, with several individuals admitting to being engaged as an ‘IMANI worker’ for several years with no job security.
Last April, former Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Youth Development, Kate Lewis-Peters told reporters that only “476 participants” out of the “2, 200” IMANI’s that were enrolled “were transitioned from the programme into permanent employment in 2021.”
Additionally, Kate Lewis-Peters, who was re-elected as the Member of Parliament representing St. Andrew North East, told reporters that of that amount, “292 participants were engaged in direct CVQ training, in areas such as patient care, painting and graphics, accounting and electrical maintenance.”
However, as he outlined the new government’s focus for the training programme, Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell contended that the IMANI programme should really be training oriented, explaining that as such the “training (administered) should specifically focus on the lack of skills sets that we need in Grenada.”
“There has to be a direct link between what the market requires, and the training, education, and vocational skills that we teach,” the PM said, highlighting inadequacies in industries such as the “marine, construction, air conditioning and refrigeration, electrical and plumbing” as among some of the skill sets that are lacking in the country.
“We can’t continue in a situation where the focus is not on technical skills because it is obvious that we need the technical skills…we do not have adequate supply,” the Prime Minister stated while justifying the “need to re-imagine the programme by ensuring that we can produce that kind of skills set.”
The Grenadian leader also highlighted his government’s plans to “have state of the art health services (on the island) in the next two (2) or three (3) years,” and in order to achieve this goal it would mean “that we need to produce hundreds of nurses” which is an industry that has been faced with significant decline over the years.
“It (also) means that we need to produce the technical people to manage, repair and maintain modern sophisticated equipment. So…we need to be training our personnel to do the jobs that are required.”
“So, if you are an air condition technician, that is your job that is your title…so that is the type of re-imagining (that) we want to focus on, and in a sense work backward from that.”