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Thursday, May 10, 2012


The SLP Government has declared an all-out war on the massive unemployment which is strangling the nation. The weapons are JOBS, SMILES, YEP, YAEP and STEP! IN addition, the Government has announced a quantum jump from “LEAP” TO “NICE”.

Here is an extract from Dr Anthony’s Budget Policy Address which specifically expounds on those weapons!

5.1        Proposed Employment Measures

Mr. Speaker, the Government proposes to tackle unemployment by the following targeted measures:

1.         The introduction of the JOBS;
2.         The Single Mothers Employment Programme (SMILES);
3.         The Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP);
4.     Support for the Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurship Programme (YAEP); and
5.       The continuation of the Short Term Employment Programme (STEP);

5.2     From LEAP to NICE

In Our Blueprint for Growth, our 2011 Manifesto, we excited the imagination of Saint Lucians with the articulation of an ambitious job creation programme called LEAP. Now it is time to translate the manifesto promise of LEAP into an established national programme to be called NICE.

NICE, which means, National Initiative to Create Employment, is the mechanism which will lead, drive and support the various programmes for employment in the period ahead. NICE will be our comprehensive  and  integrated  response  to  the  unemployment  crisis  which  we  face.  NICE will be pursued along three areas of intervention:

1.  Legislative Action – This will focus on reviewing and enacting legislation that will facilitate and generate employment in Saint Lucia;
2.   Fiscal Measures – This will focus on Government providing deliberate incentives and support to the private sector to create jobs; and
3.  Direct Intervention – This will focus on Government’s job creation programme which will create employment immediately.

An office will be established within the Office of the Prime Minister and will serve as the central unit for oversight and execution of the programme during its life. This office will provide support and work in collaboration with Government ministries and agencies for successful implementation of the direct intervention programmes.

The programme will be in existence for a three (3) year period. We aim to provide sustainable opportunities for our people. In Year 1, a provision of $35.00 million dollars will support the programme. This amount will be in addition to an allocation of $5.00 million for HOPE, $3.00 million for Koudmen Sent Lisi, and a further sum of $12 million dollars for the Constituency Development Programme. In Year II, I propose to allocate $40 million dollars and in Year III, $25 million. During its first year of operation, it is anticipated that NICE will create and provide no less than 2200 jobs to Saint Lucians.

There will be three (3) components of the Programme:
1.           A National Apprenticeship and Placement Programme (NAPP);
2.           A Constituency Projects and Infrastructure Programme (CPIP); and
3.           A Small Business Targeted Assistance Programme (SBTAP).

Mr. Speaker, I have no doubt that the question to be asked is how will we make these jobs available over a short period of time? Where are they coming from? To achieve this, the initial period will be led, driven, and supported by the Public Sector. The programme has been designed to create jobs that will support the work of the Government throughout the Public Service in the initial or short term period.

The National Apprenticeship and Placement Programme

The National Apprenticeship and Placement Programme (NAPP) will provide Training and certification in specific disciplines to be facilitated through the NSDC in collaboration with government agencies, where necessary. It is anticipated that this programme will create 1100 jobs within the financial year.

Under the NAPP measure, and in collaboration with appropriate Government ministries and agencies the following sub-measures will be pursued:
1.   A National Home Help Programme for the Elderly. We will train and employ persons island-wide to provide assistive care to aged persons and persons with disabilities;
2.  A National Programme to support Sporting Initiatives. Through this programme, Coaching Assistants in various disciplines and field assistants will be trained and provide a boon to sports programmes;
3.   A nationwide sub-measure to provide teaching assistants to schools, particularly our Primary Schools;
4.   A national sub-measure to provide a platform to developing talent in the Creative Industries that utilizes new and emerging talent at our ports of entry and places of interest. This will add value to our tourism product, enhance the visitor experience and strengthen cultural events and festivals in our communities; and
5.   The final sub-measure will provide support to research and data collection aimed at improving the quality of information management at Government departments. The Immigration Department for example, has thousands of unprocessed Arrival and Departure Forms. I imagine other governmental entities like the National Archives and the registries might take the opportunity to digitize records and improve the quality of their statistics as well.

These, Mr. Speaker, are but some of the specific measures which will be rolled out and detailed when I commission the programme’s office on May 31, 2012.

Constituency Projects and Infrastructure Programme

Mr. Speaker, the next component of NICE is that of small scale infrastructural projects targeted at improving amenities in various communities islandwide. This component will make provision for building community infrastructure projects such as sidewalks, drains, footpaths, foot bridges and community roads. These will be done with the support and supervision of the Ministry of Infrastructure, Ports and Transport. The focus here will be to create employment for small contractors with special skills and in some instances, opportunities for apprentices to work alongside the skilled contractors. This is expected to create approximately eight hundred (800) new jobs.

Small Business Targeted Assistance Programme

The goal in the medium term is to build a relationship with the private sector and secure their participation in our quest to reduce unemployment.   As part of its mandate, NICE will engage small businesses and other private sector interests with two (2) main objectives. The first is to extend support to Small Business Operations for partnership programmes that would sustain their current levels of employment and where possible, create additional employment. The other objective is to provide a pool of available expertise that would benefit private sector interests. During the first year of operation, NICE would invest in training and apprenticeship programmes that would serve as a ready pool of trained and available workforce to the private sector and development projects which we anticipate would come on stream by then.

This component will lead to providing direct support to the private sector to employ individuals. Government will agree to subsidise jobs to an agreed percentage of a maximum amount. In the first year, we anticipate over three hundred (300) jobs created through this measure.

In addition to these initiatives, NICE will work in collaboration with agencies with ongoing programmes of job creation and projects that are targeted at reaching out to specific interest groups.

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