Trinidad’s On-the-Job Training Programme sees some 300 placements per month amid pandemic

OJT Director David issues clarion call for companies to come onboard and accept trainees 

PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO — Despite the challenges many companies faced amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Trinidad and Tobago’s On-the-Job Training Programme (OJT) has been placing around 300 trainees a month in public and private sector workplaces in a bid to provide them with the hands-on training that would secure their employability in the future.

This is according to Joann David, director of the Ministry of Labour’s On-the-Job Training Division, which manages and operates the OJT.

On-the-Job Training Division Director Joann David.

Taking the time to speak with Caribbean Employment, David explained that the OJT “aims to provide the platform for young graduates to be able to transition smoothly to available jobs in the labour market” by providing them with 24 months of job experience.

It is offered exclusively to young citizens ages 16 to 35 who have already completed formal education, whether degrees or certification, and even provides stipends to trainees.

“The vision for the OJT Programme is that it becomes the premier choice for new graduates,” David shared during our interview.

“New graduates should see the programme as a premier choice to fill the gap between their certification and their workplace readiness.

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    “You get 24 months to go into the workplace and get practical, on-the-job experience by a ‘learning-by-doing’ concept. You also get to understand the workplace and the dynamics of the workplace.”

     

    Clarion call for training providers 

    A business professional mentors young employees during a meeting. (Photo: Alvarez-Getty Images)

    But just as David hopes to see the OJT Programme become the premier choice for young Trinbagonians, she too wishes for companies to realize the golden opportunity afforded by their participation, noting that “we cannot provide the 300-400 spaces for young people every month if we don’t have providers”.

    The director outlined that the government reimburses 60 percent of the stipend payments for private employers, and that OJT trainees “would have gone through the programme; gotten that 24 months of skills-building and learning how to navigate; gone through some mentorship within the workspace; and now they are poised to be the type of employees that you would want in your organization”.

    “So, my call is a clarion call,” David said. “We need providers to come onto the programme and give that support, and I tell them to see the programme and the 24 months as your probationary period for hiring staff because you can now evaluate, you can now mentor, you can now ensure that they have a cultural fit for your organization before you hire.”

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