Wards of the State exposed to working world
Some 18 children from the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) benefited from shadowing business managers and leaders at The Jamaica National Group, in a special initiative titled ‘Children in Charge Day,’ last Friday.
The initiative, now in its fifth year, was organised under the theme ‘Encourage, Enable, Include Me’, as part of the agency’s activities to recognise Child Month.
Newton Douglas, director of policy planning and evaluation at the CPFSA, explained that the job-shadowing project seeks to expose children, 15 years or older, to the day-to-day leadership activities in a company or organisation.
“It involves the strategic alignment of children with leaders for short-term mentorship; seeks to expand their knowledge base and experiences; and to provide them with first-hand training and career development opportunities. The children have the opportunity to gather information about a career that they may want to pursue in the future, or to assist them to focus their attention on potential careers which they would not have otherwise considered,” Douglas pointed out.
Sixteen-year-old Brianna Ferguson*, a grade-10 student at a St Catherine-based high school, was happy to participate in the programme for the second consecutive year. Brianna, who hopes to be a surgeon one day, was assigned to the JN Group Corporate Communications Department.
“I learned how to write a news story and how to be professional. I am glad for this work experience, so that I can put it on my résumé,” she disclosed.
Another ward of the State, Andrew Bent*,was assigned to JN Life Insurance Company Ltd. He said that he never had second thoughts when his social worker invited him to be part of the programme. Having been previously exposed to the working world, he welcomed the opportunity.
“I felt welcomed and I enjoyed the experience. I now have a greater appreciation for life insurance,” the 17-year-old student related, adding that he would love to participate again next year.
Davia Brown, chief financial officer, at JN Life Insurance Company was the mentor assigned to Andrew.
“He was very articulate, well attired and punctual. He arrived at work after 6 a.m. He extended his hand to greet me and made eye contact. What really captured me was his confidence. He was very engaging and actively asked questions. It was a day well spent,” she said.
Paulette Sterling, senior manager, JN Group learning, development and engagement, pointed out that the organisation supports initiatives which cater to the development of young people.
“We readily embrace work-study programmes which have a positive impact on the lives of our country’s future leaders and can assist to prepare them for the real world of work,” she related.
“Our mentees were accommodated under the supervision of our management team in the Corporate Area, while some were placed at JN branches in Hanover, Clarendon, and St James,” Miss Sterling disclosed.