Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 15, 2018 (SKNIS): The sustainability of the Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP), which is making a positive impact in the lives of some 2,300 enrolled interns, is being reviewed by officials and various stakeholders associated with the initiative.

The STEP – a product of the rebranded People’s Employment Programme (PEP) – was launched just about a year ago, to offer genuine training in a number of areas including landscaping, cosmetology, barbering/hair dressing, mechanic, plumbing, housekeeping and others.

Financing for the training and work programme is provided by the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF), but STEP Director, Wendell Wattley, noted that “the cost to the country is a significant one” and that makes it especially important to consider future plans.

“Agriculture is a very critical area and we believe that money can be made from agriculture,” Mr. Wattley stated, on the Wednesday (February 14) edition of the radio and television programme Working for You. “Poultry meat importation into St. Kitts is about 95 percent and that is significant. Egg importation is less than that but still there is a gap between what is required in the country and what we are producing locally, and so there is an opportunity … where we can utilize the STEP programme to provide our young people with employment and [allow] them to make some money.”

The concept is still in the early stages but Mr. Wattley and others are convinced that this would be another critical step in promoting the self sufficiency of interns while generating an income for STEP that can aid its continuation.

“The survival of the programme is very important,” STEP Field Coordinator, William Phillip, said while supporting a paradigm shift that would sustain the programme’s future. “We don’t want to just train a few persons and then the other persons to be trained can’t be trained.”

Mr. Phillip will be pushing for his vision of having persons stay on the STEP for about six months to a year and then move on in order for others to benefit from the social and skills training offered under the programme.

When interns leave the programme, they will also be issued with certification in the areas they were trained and worked in. Mr. Wattley said this is a critical aspect of the programme that will open a number of doors for the trainees to gain employment in St. Kitts and Nevis or further afield.