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Published 22nd November 2011, 1:34pm

Unemployed Caymanian single mothers and young men over the age of 21 years will get an opportunity to tackle barriers that have prevented them from getting and maintaining employment, when two new Passport2Success programmes are launched in 2012. The Ministry of Education, Training and Employment is expanding the initiative to include these new audiences, in two separate work-readiness development groups. The two cohorts, scheduled to start in January 2012, will run concurrently for 20 weeks. However the effort to assist single mothers will begin three weeks prior to the programme targeting young men. Twenty spaces are available for each. An application deadline is set for 30 November and forms are available online at Education, Training and Employment Minister, the Hon. Rolston Anglin, JP said that since its launch in April 2010, Passport2Success has proven that a quality programme, which addresses barriers to employment in a holistic way, is needed and can make a difference. "This programme is achieving its goal of transforming struggling young people aged 17-20 years into mature, work-ready citizens, and we are confident that it can also make a difference for other vulnerable groups," Minister Anglin stated. He also advised that focus groups have been held with single mothers and males over 21 years by the Ministry's strategic partner, the Wellness Centre, to better understand their unique experiences of unemployment. Based on the information gathered, curriculum and programme model changes will be implemented. "This consultation process was critical. I am convinced that the key to the success of Passport2Success is the fact that it responds to real life issues and needs of the participants, whatever they might be," Minister Anglin noted. Wellness Centre Director Shannon Seymour explained that both programmes will include the development of communication and negotiation skills. Core elements will include résumé writing, an overview of the Labour Law and employment contracts, and sessions covering workplace expectations and practices. Identified deficits in budgeting and finance skills, customer service skills, deportment and self-confidence will be addressed. Group and individual counselling and detailed assessments will also be important features of the programme. To start, successful applicants will participate in a three-week in-class orientation that includes site visits and guest speakers. Following that, a 16-week combination of in-class work and internship will add to participants' skill base. Week 20 will close the programme with the sharing and processing of experiences as well as a graduation exercise. Noting the importance of the internship component, Programme Facilitator Dr. Tasha Ebanks-Garcia explained that its focus will be skill acquisition as opposed to work experience. "We want our graduates to walk away with a tangible skill. Through an apprenticeship-focused internship, participants will have the opportunity to learn skills that will increase their marketability and employability. The benefit for employers is that skilled Caymanians will be available at the end of the programme." Accordingly, organisers are soliciting the support of local businesses for the provision of unpaid internships. Interested organisations may contact Shannon Seymour on 949-9355 or email Passport2Success is a free programme provided by the Ministry of Education, Training and Education, with the support of private sector sponsors Butterfield Bank (Cayman) Ltd., CML Offshore Recruitment, and LIME Communications. Transportation for the programme is provided by Webster's Tours Ltd.