Minister: OJTs turned down positions because of pandemic

Labour Minister Stephen Mc Clashie

LABOUR Minister Stephen Mc Clashie has said that restrictions caused by the pandemic led to many students who had applied for the On-the-Job Training (OJT) programme turning down positions.

Mc Clashie was speaking during a meeting of the Standing Finance Committee of the House of Representatives on Wednesday. The committee later approved the ministry’s $414.68 million budgetary allocation.

Responding to questions from UNC MPs as to the reason for the decrease in OJTs, Mc Clashie said, “Many students, although they applied, we did not have many takers because people were in lockdown…2021 was skewed in terms of placement.” He said the ministry noticed a decline from 4,900 trainees in 2020, to under 4,000 this year.

He said there are five levels on the OJT programme.

Currently, there are 695 trainees in level one, 338 in level two, 74 in level three; 672 in level four and 75 trainees in level five. He said there are no outstanding payments owed to trainees at this time.

Mc Clashie also addressed the 300 locals working on farms in Canada. He said the ministry has a liaison office in Canada where workers can access a range of services including facilitating accommodations, health, and safety concerns, and addressing family issues to ensure nationals are comfortable.

He also said the ministry used an allocation of $2 million to upgrade the information and communication technology (ICT) programme at the Cipriani College of Labour. He said the college, because of the pandemic, has been streaming content to the wider Caribbean which has led to an increase in enrolment.

“This is an opportunity we need to pursue,” he said, adding the ministry will be using the money to purchase servers, hardware and software to enhance the experience for students.”