Having recently submitted an implementation plan to the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development (MEHR), Partners of the Americas, is expected to roll out its workforce development programme called A Ganar. It will target over 1,500 Barbadian youth, aged 15 to 24 and deemed at-risk, in need of appropriate knowledge, skills and attitudes that would allow them to positively impact their community via employment, entrepreneurship or a return to the formal education system.
This programme is expected to be fully implemented by the second quarter of 2013. Participants will include school drop outs, youth at risk of dropping out, single mothers, former inmates and high school graduates with no interest in further educational opportunities. It is believed that few of these programme participants ever see avenues from their current situations to employment, university, high school completion or even other vocational programmes.
A Ganar, which means ‘to win' or ‘to earn' in Spanish, already exists in 15 countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Barbados will be the 16th country to sign on to this initiative.
Senior Programme Coordinator with PoA, Lindsey Suggs, at a recent meeting with Government and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) said of A Ganar:
"It is a youth workforce development programme wrapped inside of a soccer ball. It addresses the needs of males and females and places emphasis on recruits who demonstrate motivation, learning-ready attitudes and who want to improve their life through educational opportunities, leading to increased economic stability.
"The programme recognises that workforce technical skills are not enough to succeed in the highly competitive workforce of the 21st century. Through its unique methodology, young workers develop the passion, hard work and skills necessary to succeed in the labour market."
According to Mrs. Suggs, A Ganar is conceptualised on the premise that in order to meet today's demands and opportunities, the youth also need to possess the appropriate work environment attitude, work ethic and "soft skills" in order to succeed.
She stressed: "These skills which are demonstrated daily on soccer fields around the world include teamwork, communication, discipline, respect and continual self-improvement. And, A Ganar uses them to instill strong workforce skills for the future employability options for the beneficiaries. Examples of such skills transference are reflected in classroom sessions and on the field. For instance, being on time for work is just as important as being on time for a game."
Programme Director of the Programme Coordinating Unit of the MEHR, Development, Paul Murphy, speaking about this programme said:
"A Ganar is a sub-component under the "Skills For the Future" programme which Government signed onto with the IDB in November. It will be implemented through nine secondary schools and two training institutions, starting with a pre-pilot in January 2013 that will engage two secondary schools and the two training institutions. These are St. Leonard's Boys and Parkinson Memorial Secondary Schools, and the Barbados Vocational Training Board and the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic."
He noted that while the pre-pilot was being sponsored by the Multi-Lateral Investment Fund, the pilot, slated to start in September 2013, would be co-sponsored by Government and the IDB.
Moreover, funding for A Ganar is estimated at under BDS $4 million.
Mr. Murphy added that the Ministry was now in the process of recruiting the necessary support staff and said: "As the Ministry embarks on the pre-pilot phase, citizens with the requisite knowledge and skills in youth development, education, sports for development and programme coordination should seek to participate."
He also stressed that established ties in the community and an in depth knowledge of the corporate operations of Barbados would be an asset.
One available post is that of Country Coordinator, which requires the successful candidate to play an integral role in ensuring high quality training of facilitators and youth, maintaining relations with the community and serving as a liaison between the business community and PoA.
Barbadians are being encouraged to apply for the several posts, and may access further information on the programme at http://www.aganar.org/.