By a staff writer
The Government of National Unity continues to work arduously to ensure that the process of reformation of the Peoples Employment Programme (PEP) continues. The programme will see further transformation in the near future.
During Tuesday’s sitting of the Federal Parliament, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, explained that in keeping with the Team Unity Administration’s Prosperity Agenda, the PEP has been ameliorated.
According to the Prime Minister, the Government seeks “to re-organize, restructure and reposition the PEP programme into a genuine Skills Training and Empowerment Programme (STEP).
Prime Minister Harris further indicated that the “STEP will be a major advancement, step up if you will on PEP in terms of its philosophical underpinnings, objectives, deliverables and costs to the country. It will be rooted in a people- centered governance framework.”
Participants of the STEP will receive “short-term formal training in areas where there is an insufficiency of adequate entry level and level 2 skills and competences to meet market demands, especially in the area of tourism and hospitality and construction.”
The Prime Minister mentioned that with the “geometric growth in our cruise tourism and in stay-over visitors, we can easily estimate over 1,000 jobs will become available in tourism and hospitality over the next two years – specifically to service the Park Hyatt with over 300 persons, KOI Resort with over 300 persons, and T-Loft with over 400 employees. Additionally, he mentioned that St. Kitts Castle and other properties are moving apace in St. Kitts and Nevis.
The Prime Minister revealed that the STEP programme will offer short-term job attachment or apprenticeship where persons are given a stint to learn by doing work where they are monitored, evaluated and certified if they are up to par; entrepreneur/incubator programmes will be offered; there will be short term strategic non-obstructionist intervenor in the labour market; and support will be offered to enhance soft skills with respect to behaviour, conduct, and values for sustainable living. The STEP programme will also articulate with other programmes supervised with a National Training Institute.
Prime Minister Harris said that as of Aug. 23, PEP had entered its 191st week of operations, having commenced in December, 2012.
According to Prime Minister Harris, “PEP has been funded to the tune of EC$ 196,203,733.88. Of this amount, $193,368,347.06 came from the SIDF (Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation) and $2.7 million from the Federal Government, and remainder from interest and other income.”