STEP aims at producing empowered and employable workers, says Director Wattley

STEP Director Mr Wendell Wattley addressing STEP workers who were gathered at the Conaree Community Centre for the Soft Skills Training Programme.

Basseterre, St. KittsNovember 21, 2018 (S.T.E.P.) — Director of the Skills Training Programme (STEP), a government agency under the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr Wendell Wattley has said that the core objective of the programme is to ensure that the country has a pool of empowered skilled and employable workers.

Mr Wattley made the remarks at the Conaree Community Centre on Thursday November 15 at the opening ceremony of a Soft Skills Training Programme facilitated by Dr Neals Chitan, and Mrs Ingrid Charles-Gumbs to workers on the STEP Community Clean-up Groups drawn from Bird Rock, Needsmust, National Heroes Park, and Conaree.

“Training in soft skills forms part of the core objective of the STEP, which is to produce a pool of empowered skilled and employable workers in St. Kitts and Nevis through technical and vocational education, delivered via formal as well as informal training programmes,” said Mr Wattley. “Today’s soft skills training will focus on conflict management and conflict resolution techniques.”

Present at the opening session were Prime Minister and Minister of People Empowerment Dr the Hon Timothy Harris, and Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for STEP Mr Osbert DeSuza. Both the Prime Minister and the Permanent Secretary gave remarks.

According to facilitator Dr Neals Chitan, who is an International Social Skills Consultant and Crime Reduction Specialist, and President of Motiv-8 For Change International, the session was on conflict management where they looked at the positive conflict, and negative conflict.

“I spoke a lot about the civil rights movement in the States with Dr Martin Luther King,” noted Dr Chitan. “He was in conflict with what was going on. He did not like what was going on with his people, and he took a peaceable approach, spoke it out, lived it and although he died in 1968 the world remembers him for using the energy of conflict positively.”

Dr Chitan pointed out to the STEP workers that perception came into play depending on what people believe they saw or what they heard. He gave the example of the number six, where two people sat on either end of the number six and while one saw it as nine, the other saw it as a six and they were arguing about it.

“But they saw what they saw, and there is only one answer – who wrote it, what did you write,” noted Dr Chitan, who added that the gang and crime situation in the country is mostly over petty matter, giving the example of revenge for some old thing that would have happened between people from one section of the community and the other.

Stressing the need to cultivate reason to end simple conflicts, Dr Chitan gave them the example of the 33 Chilean miners who stuck 23,000 feet underground for 69 days. He said that when they were down there they had to put down their petty differences away and realised it was a lifesaving mission that meant getting out alive or dying in there. He concluded: “All the petty conflicts just dissipated as they worked together for survival, and they came out.”

Former Director of Gender Affairs, Mrs Ingrid Charles-Gumbs said she spoke with the STEP workers about how gender socialisation affects the way conflicts are handled, noting that understanding it could help to modify the strategies used to manage conflict, as there are no men’s behaviours or women’s behaviours, there are just human behaviours.

“There is no problem in the world that dialogue can’t solve and so it encourages men to be more communicative and to talk to their issues, instead of using violence as a means to resolve conflict,” noted Mrs Charles-Gumbs. “Of course there are women who use violence also, but our socialisation as men and women in the society predisposes men to violent behaviour.”

According to the facilitator who is well known for championing the cause of women in the Federation, “There was a high level of participation and I do believe that the participants are going to adopt some of the measures that were thrown out to them.”

Soft Skills Training Programme facilitators, Dr Neals Chitan and Mrs Ingrid Charles-Gumbs.

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