Patrick Simmons: A system was in place

Former Minister of Youth Empowerment and Sports, Patrick Simmons has refuted statements made by current Minister of Youth, Sports and Ecclesiastics Affairs Emmalin Pierre that the Government of the former National Democratic Congress (NDC) did not have structures in place for certification of the young people who were involved in its Youth Upliftment Programme.

Pierre told a graduation ceremony last week Thursday of some of the people who were in the programme that they were misguided about being given proper certification under the NDC initiative.

Without giving specifics, she claimed that there was weaknesses in the programme that replaced the previous Imani Programme operated by NNP when it lost power in July 2008.

However, in an NDC hosted radio programme on Sunday, Simmons said there was a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which ends in September that was signed by his ministry, and the National Training Agency (NTA) for the certification of the trainees.

Simmons stated that the MOU makes mention of the training of the young people at the entry level and what is going to happen to them at the end of the training.

According to him, the Memorandum also refers to who is responsible for conducting the training, and who is responsible for providing the $700.00 monthly stipend to the participants, and the duration of training.

“The ministry itself does not have the authority to issue certification of that calibre to the nation’s youth. The authority of the issuance of certification at that level is authorised by the National Training Agency,” he said.

The former Youth Minister pointed out that if someone does not get information, there is always ways and means in which that person can have the information.

Simmons noted that while a minister is responsible for the policies of the ministry, the Permanent Secretary and Coordinators are responsible for the implementation of policies.

He disclosed that 150 trainees graduated from the programme and received their National Vocational Qualification (NVQ).

Simmons said those who did not receive certificates must not feel daunted.

He said an assessment will be done by the NTA and once it is satisfied that they have reached the standard for the entry level, they will be granted the NVQ.

“It is not true to say that there was no system in place to ensure that the process of NVQ/CVQ Certification was not put in place,” he added.

According to the former minister, within the next month an additional 250 trainees would gain NVQ Certification.

“Let us see what is going to happen when that happens, and let us wait to hear what the remarks or the comments would be coming from the minister in that regard,” he said.

“I want to say to the young people that the opportunity that was provided for you is grounded in a MOU as regards to your certification, and even if you have not received a certification at this stage you must not be daunted and feel that nothing was put in place for you”, he added.

Simmons told the programme host that despite the economic constraint faced by the NDC Government, it was able to engage 3,000 young people in the youth programme.

He said apart from receiving the monthly stipend, the young people got placement through the apprenticeship programme.

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