AS if echoing recent comments by Education Minister Ronald Thwaites that it is imperative for unemployed teachers to reinvent themselves, one Heart Trust/NTA representative is urging more people to learn skills as a means of averting unemployment.
Further, the rep said all school leavers should have mastered at least one vocational subject upon graduation.
Recruitment coordinator at the HEART Trust/NTA in St Ann's Bay Stephanie Davis-Ellis told a symposium and community health clinic last week that having a skill not only increases one's chances of becoming employed, but saves money by not having to pay someone else for a task you could do yourself.
"In these hard times, having a skill is deemed necessary; you are able to save money," she said.
"What if something goes wrong with your plumbing system? You can't fix it because you are not trained. If you should therefore employ someone else to do the job, they will charge you an 'arm and a leg'. Therefore, what you find is that people are actually saying, 'Ok instead of paying someone else to do the work, I can do it myself'."
Davis-Ellis added that the HEART Trust has found
that "some professionals, including teachers, are obtaining a skill and then they turn around and use this skill to teach or they may opt to work full-time with that skill. This is a practical way out of the unemployment line".
Davis-Ellis was one of the main speakers at the symposium which was hosted by the Sandals Foundation and the Brittonville Seventh-day Adventist Church on August 13, 2013. One hundred and three persons attended the event, which was held at Brittonville Primary School in St Ann.
After her presentation to the group, Davis-Ellis explained her position in more detail.
"The reality is, people must be wise and study the job markets carefully. Where there is an oversaturation in one area, you are least likely to be employed. Take, for example, the food preparation area; what we find is that many persons are embarking on this area of training but only stop at the basic level of training and do not continue toward the higher level of training and that is where the highest demand for job lies, especially in the overseas market," she said.
Underscoring the point, Hyacinth Thomson spoke of her own experience transitioning from international relations to the kitchen. Thomson, whose position was made redundant in 1988, was not able to find a permanent job, even with a degree, and so she became a pastry chef.
"I am a self-made entrepreneur and if it were not for this skill, I would not be able to provide for myself and family," she said.
Other aspects of the six-hour event included presentations on the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education, dental cleaning, medical checks, pap smears, HIV testing and talks on how to prevent HIV, courtesy of the St Ann's Bay Hospital and St Ann Health Department.
Belinda Garrick, a patron who attended the symposium and clinic in spite of the sporadic showers, was
"I had to come because I have learnt so much and I was encouraged by the presentation made by HEART because in these hard times you really have to do something to help yourself. Also, I was able to do my pap smear and to see the doctor free of cost."
This was the third time the Brittonville Adventist church and community club were participating in the health clinic, and as far as one of the main coordinators and an elder of the Free Hill Seventh-day Adventist Church Carmen Wilson is concerned, it will continue to be a fixture on the church calendar.
"This is something we have to continue to do and once Lindsay Isaacs and her team from Sandals Foundation are willing to continue with this project, we are on board. You see, persons living in rural St Ann are in need of these educational programmes and health clinics because it is of a big assistance to them," she said.