School is out! It’s graduation season right across Saint Lucia, a period of euphoria for some students, and agony for others who are unsure of their future prospects for higher education or for gainful employment.
Recognizing this impending dilemma, Axcel Finance, in a public-private partnership with the Human Resource Development Department of Ministry of Education, earlier this month assisted hundreds of students in getting a head-start on career choices, career options and job-hunting skills.
This took the form of a Career Preparation Workshop for hundreds of secondary and tertiary level students from across the island. The full-day exercise was held at the National Cultural Centre on July 10, 2013. It has been dubbed a resounding success with many participants claiming that it marked a turning point in their lives.
“I never expected this…I expected a boring line on speeches. It was fun, educational and interactive from beginning to end”, said Jhamal Corneille, student of Babonneau Secondary. Iva Paul, Student of SALCC said: “I was so motivated I got something to eat went straight home, typed up my resume and dropped it off the same day.”
The Career Preparation Workshop was held under the theme “Determination, Initiative and Persistence…Foundations for Success.” A key objective of the Workshop was to address the critical issue of youth unemployment in Saint Lucia right now. Axcel Finance embraced the concept of the Career Preparation Workshop as part of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility to play its part in building a skilled and successful workforce with career development and income earning potential.
Other corporate partners joining Axcel Finance in this initiative were Celestial Self Development Centre, Monroe College, Tolyn Manufactures, Glace Motors, Youth SPAC, Billy’s Cleaning Service and Supplies, SMJ Beverages, DuBolay’s Bottling Co and The ICE Factory.
Sam Rosenberg, CEO of Axcel Finance emphasized the competitive nature of the job market and the need to develop skills, explore interests, and educate oneself on what is going on in the economy in Saint Lucia and beyond. He told the students who gathered, “You are now embarking on a new path so any decision you make right now will be far-reaching. You have incredible potential. No matter what your strength or your interest, you will be a contributing member of society.”
Today’s competitive job market demands that students possess knowledge, skills, and relevant job experience that will set them apart. The Axcel Finance Career Preparation Workshop activities sought to increase their chances of obtaining employment upon completion of high school or college.
Axcel Finance believes that career planning and preparation should be an ongoing process throughout high school and post-secondary studies. The workshop was designed to help graduating students and job seekers to take an active role in identifying career goals and acquiring experiences which will complement their academic programs.
Minister of Commerce, Business Development, Investment and Consumer Affairs Hon. Emma Hippolyte told the gathering, “In an increasingly complex and specialized global economy, education and training beyond secondary school are crucial to the ability of secondary school graduates to earn a self-sufficient living and to support a family. Without such education and training, graduates are more likely than ever before to see the options for their future narrow as the number of good jobs available to people with only a CXC’s dwindles.”
“The positive relationship between school, career and earnings, speak to the importance of academic achievement and early career planning in the future economic well-being of our workforce. Not only does college readiness and early career planning directly affect success in post secondary education, it also determines long-term salary attainment, regardless of gender, or ultimate educational attainment. I wish to reinforce the economic imperative for all high school students to become ready for college and a career. ”
Presenters at the Career Preparation Workshop included some of the most accomplished individuals in the public and private sector in Saint Lucia.
Thecla Deterville Director of Celestial spoke of mapping and networking. Mrs. Deterville advised graduating students on the Saint Lucia and international job markets, teaching them how to formulate a job search action plan, target specific companies and use local and international recruitment tools. Among the tools featured were Going Global, Work maze, LinkedIn, along with top international job boards.
The quality of the resume was mentioned by many of the speakers, but Beverley Dulcie – Human Resource Manager Employee Development of SLASPA – went into detail and spoke on how to write a well-presented cover letter and resume that highlights the individual’s achievements and gives the recruiter a clear indication of why the candidate should be considered for a position.
Once a resume is completed, a candidate still has to survive the interview. Ms. Nadia Asgill-Simei – Human Resource Manager for Harris Colour World of Paints – prepared students for future interviews with recruiters. She provided students with an in-depth understanding of the selection process and helped them to improve their interview skills.
A unique feature during the Career Preparation Workshop was a live presentation by the YOUTH SPAC group who demonstrated to the participants the appropriate dress code. Ms. Len Diptee – Human Resource Manager of Treasure Bay and Lisa Dublin Director of OSSi spoke to students on how to dress for an interview. She advised that clothing colour and accessories play a major role in explaining who you are.
Peter Lorde – Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce noted that job interviews provide opportunities for job applicants to sell themselves to potential employers. Job applicants need to invest their time in preparing for the interview and understanding the interview process. Mr. Lorde believes, “This exercise is so important it should be a standard feature on end of school activities that should be sponsored and managed by a PPP.”
Reflecting on the event, Minister Hippolyte Minister of Commerce, Business Development, Investment and Consumer Affairs complimented Axcel Finance for its visionary approach and hosting the event and for collaborating with the Government.