By Carlena Knight
“Hundreds” of public service trainees on the government’s ‘new work experience programme’ are to be given permanent positions.
The move applies to those in the public sector who have been a part of the programme for six months or more.
This was one of several announcements coming out of Cabinet this week.
It is unclear exactly how many people are affected but Minister of Social Transformation Dean Jonas said it could be as many as one thousand.
Given government’s current financial restraints, he was asked at yesterday’s post-Cabinet press conference how the positions would be paid for.
“Well, you know, on the job programme, persons are already being paid. There are persons who have been on the job programme for years, two years, three years,” he explained.
“They have gone through the job programme and they are actually doing meaningful work and the Cabinet has recognised that and decided that those employed by the government over six months will be fully employed and so positions will be created for them.”
Jonas continued that being part of the initiative for an extended period of time can limit the ability of such workers to access loans and other financial services.
“When you’re on the job programme for that long too, it affects their ability to get a lot of things done, getting financing and a whole lot of other things that they are not able to because they are on the training programme and it ought not to be. So, the honourable Attorney General and myself included have decided that.
“The Attorney General was the one who actually convinced the Cabinet really to get this done and to ensure that those persons are given the status that they deserve.
“So, persons after certain months of working on the job programme will be fully employed and engaged by the government in the capacity where they are in right now,” Jonas said.
He is also encouraging private sector businesses who have workers involved in the scheme to follow the government’s lead in making trainees permanent staff.
Jonas was standing in for Information Minister Melford Nicholas during Friday’s press briefing.
The new work experience programme is a government initiative which has been in place for several years and offers participants the opportunity to work in either the public or private sector under specific terms. Individuals receive relevant training and a stipend.