EC$35 Million Dollars gets NICE off the ground

The National Initiative to Create Employment (NICE) was officially launched on Thursday at the NSDC Skills centre in Vieux Fort. Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony had announced in his 2012/2013 Budget presentation that this program will be launched to begin an employment drive in St Lucia. While the Short Term Employment Programme (STEP) was revived by the new administration just days after winning the 2011 general election, a few other new programmes have been added under the NICE drive including, Youth Agri-Entrepreneaurial Project (YAEP), Koudemein Sent Lisi, Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP) and the Single Mothers in Life Enhancement Skills Project (SMILES).
In his short address to a packed audience, Dr Anthony said that the country is facing a very high unemployment situation in dire need of an employment jump start. He says NICE will begin the drive which will provide employment for the most vulnerable citizens of this country, ranging between ages 15 to 19 and 60 and over.
“The situation confronting our country is serious, some might say grim. But we can and will make a difference,” Dr Anthony said while adding, “We must have a differentiated approach to how we tackle our unemployment situation because we have a varied mix of life situations, each requiring a different intervention or medley of interventions. We have to create a society in which we look after all out citizens not just some.
“We must break the inertia that has set in thoughout this land. Many persons have been unemployed for years and this is simply untenable. This is why Government has committed to providing the country with an opportunity to get back to work.”
Before ending his address, Dr Anthony urged all unemployed young citizens of St Lucia to make use of the available opportunities created by NICE.
“For those who plan to get a job, it is time to get serious, get off the block, get out of the house and access the opportunities available to you . . . The time has come to change the tide. This government is determined to give our citizens an opportunity, some breathing space, the chance to earn a fair wage, support their families and save some for the rainy days.”
Meanwhile Dr Robert Lewis says NICE provides diverse pathways to making skill development work.
According to the coordinator of the NICE programme, Perry Thomas, there will be three components which are namely, National Apprenticeship and Placement Program (NAPP), Constituency Projects and Infrastructure Program (CPIP), and Small Business Targeted Assistance Program (SBTAP).
The NAPP is a monthly stipend which will be paid to each trainee, while an agreed amount will be paid to those placed at businesses after training. This programme caters for nationals
ages 16 to 65 who are unemployed.
The CPIP is an opportunity for participants to received certification after training. According to Thomas, all activities under this programme will be undertaken by NICE in collaboration with the Ministry of Infrastructure. This will assist in post Tomas reconstruction as well as job creation and finally, the third component, SBTAP is a research and development component which includes credit facilities, technical assistance, product and market development. This component caters for the Creative arts sector, agro processing and small businesses.
It is expected that all of the employment drive programmes will be implemented strategically over a 36 month period and will see an expenditure of more than EC$35
million dollars. For more information, persons are asked to contact the NICE management unit within
the Office of the Prime Minister at 468-2177.

From L-R: Ministers Robert Lewis and Shawn Edward and Prime Minister Kenny Anthony.

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