If you see a bright, orange coach driving through or parked in your area, don't be alarmed. It's there to provide an array of educational and career services to job seekers, students and others through an initiative by the Ministry of Tertiary Education and Skills Training, in collaboration with the National Training Agency (NTA).
And through this "office on wheels," Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is hoping that the unemployment figure will decrease.
At Monday's launch of the Jobs and Career Coach initiative at the National Academy for the Performing Arts, the PM said the Government envisioned that the initiative will significantly contribute to the employability of citizens by educating and training them on the essential skills and requirements of the workplace, as a result, reducing the unemployment rate in T&T.
She said, "When I undertook the responsibility of leading the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, I pledged to provide my citizens with equal opportunities in accessing programmes introduced under my regime. "Consequently, I am pleased to inform you the people of Trinidad and Tobago, that this programme will be accessible and available throughout our island, through the mobility of these services using high-tech buses."
Positioned at malls, churches, schools
The use of two customised, high-tech, 40 foot buses were designed to operate as mobile office spaces and NTA chairman Kelvin Mahabir said they would be positioned at several locations such as rural communities, malls, churches, schools, libraries and the promenades.
On board the two coaches are a driver, a conductor, two career guidance officers and a co-ordinator. The coaches are fully air-conditioned, carpeted, equipped with a kitchenette, library, desks, chairs, two laptops, handbooks about careers and are Internet-ready.
Mahabir said the coaches would provide labour market information, career guidance, on-the-spot resume writing training, interview tips, job search, offline and on-line applications for tertiary and technical education institutions and counselling to unemployed youths, students, entrepreneurs, and new entrants into the world of work. The NTA would process applications and dispatch them to employers.
Targeting citizens 16 to 30
Mahabir said the citizens between the ages of 16 and 30 were the main target who could access the free service. Since its launch on Monday, the coaches have been to the Brian Lara and Harris promenades, Arima, Point Fortin, Couva, Princes Town, Chaguanas, Penal and Sangre Grande. Contacted on Friday, a NTA official said the flow had been constant.
The official said the NTA was bombarded by telephone calls about requests to visit schools and other institutions. The coach is also expected to visit Tobago early next. Mahabir said the initiative was a "milestone" for the ministry and NTA.
Persad-Bissessar said the initiative offered many benefits and could help people to have a new outlook on their lives and career choices, improve their performance levels and better recognise the paths they wanted to follow, be more focused, as well as help them to enhance their performance levels and promote better decision-making.
According to the Central Statistical Office, last year there was a reported decrease in the unemployment rate from 5.2 per cent in the third quarter to 4.2 per cent in the last quarter. Persad-Bissessar said those figures were significantly lower than that in 2010 when it was 6.3 per cent under the previous administration.
"Therefore, with this new Jobs and Career Coach initiative, we are hoping that this unemployment figure will be further reduced to improve the standard of living of our entire nation," she said.