Mon | Oct 22, 2018

Editors’ Forum | Outlet for UTech - HAJ offers work experience, internship and jobs to students

Published:Sunday | February 11, 2018 | 12:00 AMCarlene Davis
Members of the HAJ’s management team at a Gleaner Editors’ Forum last Wednesday. From left: Gary Howell, Nakia McMorris, Garfield Stewart and Richard Jones.

Engineers and quantity surveyors are among several students from the University of Technology (UTech) benefiting from a work experience partnership with the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ).

Managing director of the HAJ, Gary Howell, told a Gleaner Editors' Forum last Wednesday that the HAJ was happy to facilitate the students, as one of the challenges that Jamaica's young people are facing is finding suitable work experience.

"What we try to do, even though we can't take on everybody, is to take on one and two here and there and let them understudy, and that is one of the things we try to do because if you don't get employment you will never get the experience," said Howell.

"I believe that as a government entity we need to contribute to that level of developing our young people. One of the things that we have to do is ensure that there's some level of succession planning that somebody is learning, so that means that when that person decides to move on we have somebody that can fill the gap," added Howell.

The HAJ's intervention has been welcomed by acting programme director of civil engineering at UTech, Glendon Lewis, who told The Sunday Gleaner that the general feedback from the students is that it was adequately preparing them for the future.

"The students have benefited immensely. They come back to say they are now in a position that when they go into the working world they understand how some of these things are actually done and to relate it back to what they have learnt," said Lewis.

Students studying on the engineering programme are required to complete 400 hours of work experience in order to graduate.

Lewis said this can prove challenging for students and is appealing to other entities to assist.

"We hope that more companies would get on board to help us. Sometimes placing is an issue, finding companies that are willing to accept them for the period is sometimes an issue," added Lewis.