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Job readiness program oversubscribed

The number of people who applied for the National Job Readiness and Training Program “far exceeded” the 3,000 spots set aside for the initiative, Labour and Social Development Minister Dion Foulkes revealed.

While he could not provide the official number of applicants yesterday, Foulkes confirmed that “several thousand” Bahamians signed up.  The application process started last Monday and ended Friday.

The government expected thousands to apply for the spots, as there were thousands of jobs lost during the recession.

Foulkes said the applications are currently being processed in order to create a database.  He’s scheduled to meet with Minister of State for Finance Zhivargo Laing and Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Charles Maynard to discuss the applications and the next stage of the program.

Foulkes said the job readiness committee plans to update the public on the status of the applications, and the program, later this week after members of the cabinet are briefed on the committee’s findings.

The government has set aside $25 million for the program, which has three main components: job readiness, job training and job placement.

The job readiness component is primarily aimed at young unemployed Bahamians 30 years of age and under.  The job training component will provide people over 30 with the opportunity to enhance their skills or gain new skills through study and work placement.  The general job placement component will allow unemployed Bahamians to work in designated industries such as, but not limited to, tourism, financial services and the industrial trades.

The program is designed to prepare unemployed Bahamians for entry into the labor market after they receive 52 weeks of formal on-the-job training and career coaching through structured seminars, Foulkes explained.

The program will not only benefit the 3,000 people involved.  It will also benefit the businesses that take on additional workers, as their salaries will be subsidized by the government for up to $210 per week, government officials have pointed out.

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