The first ever Orientation Workshop for students participating in the Government of Saint Lucia Summer Employment Programme, was hosted on Tuesday May 28th, at the Public Service Training Institute (PSTI) in Union. More than thirty students attended the eight-hour workshop. Present at the workshop was Julita Peter, Information Officer from the Department of the Public Service; Betty Blanchard, Director of Training from the Department of Public Service and Cheryl Rosemond, Administrative Assistant from the Department of Public Service.
The programme was facilitated by professionals of the Department of Public Service, the Human Resource Management and Organizational Development divisions, as well as the Training Division in collaboration with an external presenter with expertise in ethics and professionalism. The comprehensive orientation programme will be focused on structure and functions of ministries and departments, introduction to staff orders, time management, ethics and professionalism, on-the-job skills and student responsibility. The orientation workshop is divided into four sessions which will be split between the two employment periods. The periods are June/July and July/August. Each student will be employed for a two month period, and will receive a stipend at the end of each month.
The Saint Lucia Summer Employment Programme is open to 5th form students, year-one tertiary students and university students who are not in their final year. Fifth form students will receive a stipend of $800 per month, tertiary students will receive a stipend of $900 per month, and university students will receive a stipend of $1000 per month. Students at the workshop revealed their motivations for enrolling in the summer employment programme. Some of them stated that their reason for applying was due to financial difficulties at home. Others said they applied for the acquisition of job experience and to expand their social networks.
The initiative was conceived when the Department of the Public Service recognized the need to incorporate a formal orientation session to introduce applicants to the Saint Lucia Public Service. The informal orientation sessions which were practiced in previous years were considered no longer adequate to prepare students for the various departments within the public service. The programme was designed with the objective of empowering students in order to enable them to be more successful at the various levels.
The first orientation workshop instructed students on what is expected of them upon entering the workforce. Students were provided with insight on the attitude and behaviour that is beneficial for them to foster in the working environment. Students were also educated on methods for building rapport and strong working relationships within the workforce. Cheryl Rosemond, Administrative Assistant from the Department of the Public Service, stated that the summer employment programme will nourish students for further opportunities.
“A number of students who get accepted into the summer programme are driven to excel,” she said. “Their determination to be successful is recognised in their performance throughout their summer employment, which leaves lasting impressions that further expands their horizons.”
It was also stated that out of the approximate 900 students who apply each year for the Saint Lucia Summer Employment Programme, that about 200 are accepted. The number of candidates selected each year varies according to the budget that is allocated for the programme. Rosemond stated that there were no set criteria for selecting students since every student has an equal opportunity in applying for summer employment.
The first session of the orientation workshop was a success. Students surprised the professionals from the Saint Lucia Public Service by arriving much earlier for the workshop than they were expected to. This demonstration of punctuality was considered to be the students’ way of showing their sincere interest in the programme.
The next Orientation Workshop will be held on May 31st, with two more sessions to be held in June.