50 employed as environmental wardens

National Careers Week and Skills Competition for Feb 17 to 23

Friday, February 02, 2018

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FIFTY people in two parishes will be gainfully employed as environmental wardens, following the signing yesterday of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information and Recycling Partners of Jamaica (RPJ) at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston.

The MOU formalised the training and employment of the wardens who will pilot the recycling of plastics in 50 primary schools across Clarendon and Manchester.

Vice chairman of the board of directors at the RPJ, Francois Chalifour, said the project will operate under the Learning Earning Giving and Saving (LEGS) programme.

“It is primarily to sensitise the school administration and students on how to source the recycled materials and put them in the proper bins, so that Recycling Partners can come by and collect the bottles,” he said.

“The RPJ organised and executed the initial training on the recycling process. We envision recycling awareness campaigns, and reduce and reuse competitions within and among the schools that are a part of the programme,” said Chalifour.

“We see the wardens as a way to contribute to Jamaica's continued effort to promote healthy environmental practices in the primary education system.

“I've always had a passion for the environment; I was an assistant teacher at the Robins Hall Primary School, so when the position came up I quickly offered myself,” Manchester environmental warden Ricardo Gouldbourn told the Jamaica Observer. The position, he said, will be for one year.

Gouldbourn said although he has only gone through week one of the two-week training for the programme he has learned many things, including how to separate waste and creative ways to make things from plastic bottles.

“I made a bookshelf out of plastic bottles and I didn't know that was possible,” he said.

Minister of Education Ruel Reid said the ministry was pleased to be a part of the environmental warden initiative.

“Recycling takes less energy and it's cheaper and more economically sound to recycle than mine new raw materials,” Reid said.

According to the minister, recycling teaches children and adults to care about the environment and understand that resources are not limitless.

The education ministry had also collaborated with the HEART Trust/NTA for training assessment and certification of the wardens.

The RPJ revealed that between March 2015 and December last year it collected 4.3 million pounds of plastic for recycling purposes. “Daily we bail from our Lakes Pen office 50 days of plastic which weighs about 140 pounds and across our network we process 25,200 pounds of plastic daily, said chairman of the board of directors, Lucille Brodber.

However, she said the demand for plastic for recycling far outstripped the RPJ's ability to supply.

Yesterday also saw the launch of the 2018 National Careers Week and Skills Competition, which kick-starts on February 17 and ends on February 23.

“The activities throughout the week will focus on celebrating excellence in skills by demonstrating how skills education and training is for youth and by challenging young people to be the best in their skill of choice,” said interim managing director at the HEART Trust/NTA, Dr Janet Dyer, during her address at the launch.

The week will feature key events such as the National skills Competition, an entrepreneurial expo, forums and other activities.

Minster Reid, while commenting on the week of activities, noted that more emphasis needed to be placed on skills training in Jamaica.

“Skills now make up to 90 per cent of job requirements. We have to now transition from the idea that Technical Vocational Education and Training programmes (TVET) is done by persons who did not do very well in traditional education system and are just getting a second chance,” said Reid.

“We have to do some realignment because out of the 25,000 enrolled students we have over 42 per cent of them pursuing social sciences. however, companies won't hire managers at the entry level.”

The minister pointed out that while the youth unemployment numbers were at its lowest, more skilled workers will be needed over the next decade, especially in the technology sector.

He was referring to a recent revelation by STATIN that the youth employment rate was the lowest it has been since 2008.

— Deandra Morrison

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