Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 14, 2018 (SKNIS): The People’s Employment Programme (PEP) was positively re-branded to the Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP) to institute genuine training opportunities and eliminate a number of challenges and irregularities that existed, said STEP Field Coordinator, William Phillip.

“For instance, when it came to labour force, we realized that persons were not going to work early, going to work very late, finishing very early and getting paid. As a matter of fact, we found out that persons who are not living in St. Kitts were on the payroll and getting paid. So we were able with the transformation of PEP to eliminate some of these problems,” said the STEP Field Coordinator.

He explained that steps have been taken to ensure that there is not a repeat of such problems.

“Going forward into STEP, we have made sure that we have a number of procedures in place – checks and balances – because of these checks and balances we have been able to counteract those problems that we have been having,” he added.

Director of STEP, Wendell Wattley, said that with the transformation of the programme, they were able to reduce the total numbers of persons on the payroll of the programme from over 4000 to just over 2000 persons.

“That’s a significant reduction both in the numbers and in terms of the payroll, which, by extension of the government, has to deal with via the SIDF [St. Kitts and Nevis Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation]. By reducing the numbers, we were able to focus more on the areas that were critical for development of the country,” said Mr. Wattley, adding that an important area of focus was that of training. “We need to have persons trained and certified because a lot of persons out there in the workforce are highly skilled but they do not possess the certification that is required by those persons who are doing employment, particularly in our labour force.”

The director said that STEP will continue to ensure that its workers are properly trained and certified so that they can utilize the opportunities available in the world of work.

The Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP) is a National Skills Training Programme (NSTP) initiative which seeks to empower programme participants by providing training to assist in the development of the requisite human resource capabilities and entrepreneurial skills which will facilitate participants’ smooth integration into the work force.

Friday, February 16, 2018, will make one year since the programme was rebranded.