250 Unemployed locals get “employability” training

POSTED: 08/30/11 12:40 PM

Ambitious project designed to steer people towards suitable employment

St. Maarten – With close to a million guilders from the state budget, St. Maarten intends to train 250 people through the employability through training-project and make sure they get a job after they have completed their training. The ambitious program, with a budget of 913,500 guilders (just over $510,000), requires the cooperation of the business community to become successful, project leader Nikima Groeneveldt Hickinson said during a presentation in the A.C. Wathey Legislative Hall yesterday afternoon.
The state of the economy and by extension the state of the labor market has inspired the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor to develop the project. Groeneveldt said that currently in the age group 18-55, 106 people are unemployed. “They are under-educated. Of this group, 29 have a primary school education, and 48 have secondary school education. These numbers are extremely alarming. Our labor force is low-educated,” Groeneveldt said.
Unemployment figures are equally alarming. In 2007, 10.6 percent of the labor force was unemployed, and in 2009 this was 12.2 percent. Most alarming however, is the unemployment among young people: 26 percent in 2007, and 29.4 percent in 2009.
To make the project work, Groeneveldt said that the government is asking for a commitment from the business community. “We are training people to steer them towards suitable employment. We cannot do that without the support of the business community.”
The training will focus on seven key areas: the marine industry, jewelry industry, security, construction, hospitality, information technology and technical professions.
The first phase of the actual training is scheduled to begin in November and last until the end of next year. A second batch of trainings will take place from the first until the third quarter of next year, and the final phase of the project is on the agenda for the first quarter of 2013.
Private training institutions are able to bid for the project in a public tender, the ministry’s Acting Secretary General Jorien Wuite said.
She said that, though the project falls under the Social Economic Initiative, it is fully financed by the government of St. Maarten. On the 2011 budget there is 312,144 guilders for the project, on the 2012 budget 595,811 guilders, and on the 2013 budget 5,545 guilders.
The largest part of the budget will be spent on training, Wuite said, but part of the resources will be spent on mediation with the private sector about job placement. Companies that hire graduates from the program will also receive financial incentives.

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