Seventy-six students from the first cohort of the Project “Assisting the Economic Empowerment of Youth and Women in Latin America and the Caribbean in the Post-Pandemic of COVID-19,” also known as Jennès Programme, graduated on Thursday, July 14, 2022. The graduation ceremony was honoured by the attendance of Hon. Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre, and was held at the Pastoral Centre in Marisule, Gros Islet.
The Jennès Programme is a collaboration of the Taiwanese Government, Government of Saint Lucia and Sir Arthur Lewis Community College, which is inspired by the “Youth Economy” of Hon. Prime Minister Pierre and served as a manifesto pledge of creating an economy for the young.
Last year, the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Saint Lucia signed the Letter of Intent of “Assisting Economic Recovery and Empowerment of Youth and Women in Latin America and the Caribbean in the Post-COVID-19 Era” to facilitate the turning of hobbies into entrepreneurship and skills into business.
This programme aims to provide technical assistance and financial services for youth and women’s employment and entrepreneurship, including a series of training opportunities and other activities to youth and women and micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises, in order to respond to the impact of COVID-19 on local economic growth and social stability.
After a six-week Digital Literacy for Professionals training and three months of intensive themat-ic vocational training courses, 76 students from the first cohort of the training course graduated with certificates.
H.E. Peter Chia-yen Chen, Taiwan’s Ambassador to Saint Lucia, was accompanied at the gradu-ation ceremony by Hon. Philip J. Pierre, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia; Hon. Virginia Albert-Poyotte, Minister for the Public Service, Home Affairs, Labour and Gender Affairs; Dr. Keith Nurse, Principal, Sir Arthur Lewis Community College; Mr. Cletus Springer, Chair of the SALCC Board; Mr. Royston Emmanuel, Education and Technology Officer, SALCC; Mr. Sher-lon Leon, guest speaker; and Mr. Elsi Lafeuille, Director for Commerce and Industry.
In his remarks, Ambassador Chen said Taiwan remains supportive of Saint Lucia’s socio-economic development, especially youth and women economic empowerment, and assistance towards micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises. He urged the graduates to make the most of their learning experience.
“As these trainings develop the knowledge, skills and personal qualities that are essential for carrying out works and activities in the aforementioned workplace settings, I hope all the participants can best utilize this lesson and skills to better your future, and can dream a bigger dream of taking on those jobs that you have been looking for,” Ambassador Chen said.
Ambassador Chen thanked everyone involved in the Jennès Programme, while reiterating Taiwan’s commitment to building the human resource capacity of Saint Lucia.
“Through these collaborations, the friendship between our two countries can only become better and stronger,” he said.
Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre thanked Taiwan for continuing to show confidence in and support for Saint Lucia. He said government will be establishing the Youth Economy Agency by September month-end to assist youths with employment opportunities. He also urged the graduates to be positive as they set out to become entrepreneurs.
“Make sure that you protect yourselves by having proper documents in your business,” Hon. Pierre told the graduates. “Make sure – even if it’s with your friend you’re in business with – that you have a company with proper articles of association. Make sure you know how to share the profits. Just make sure that you do all the groundwork and framework to run a proper business, and do not listen to negativity.”
Aside from receiving their certificates, the graduates each received US$100.00. Moreover, nine students were each presented with an angel grant fund of US$2,500.00 as they now move into the business coaching phase.
Last May, the Taiwanese Embassy partnered with the TVET Council to organize a job fair, providing potential employment opportunities for trainees. The Taiwanese Embassy has already begun partnering with the Ministry of Youth Economy, Ministry of Commerce, Manufacturing, Business Development and Consumer Affairs, and other stakeholders to organize similar job fairs.
The courses students graduating from were as follows: Early Childhood Development, Health Aide [North and South campuses], Digital and Creative Entrepreneurship, and Hospitality.