Launtia Cuff, Gleaner Writer
SANTA CRUZ, ST Elizabeth:
Acknowledging the need for not only a skilled, but a trained workforce for driving national development, the West Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists has partnered with HEART Trust/NTA to have tradesmen and women certified in general construction.
As a result, Community Services Director for the Conference, Pastor Norman Thompson, organised the tradesmen and women into leagues across the parishes in the Conference - St Elizabeth, Westmoreland, Hanover, and St James - and sought the assistance from the HEART Trust to have those individuals certified.
Last Saturday, 65 tradesmen and one tradeswoman from the parish of St Elizabeth were consecrated at a service held at the Santa Cruz Seventh-day Adventist Church. The individuals have been assessed and it is anticipated that they will graduate with Level Two certification in general construction at a graduation to be held in November at the Northern Caribbean University.
They join another estimated 115 individuals who are expected to be certified from across the West Jamaica Conference, in addition to 33 who have already received their certification.
"Since 2010, the Conference set up to organise the tradesmen around the Conference into leagues, one in each parish," Thompson told Rural Express. "So we collaborated with HEART to do a certification programme. HEART is the one that certifies them on the job. So we had a consecration service for the 66 (from St Elizabeth), and they will be graduating in November," he added
Thompson continued: "It is successful because the tradesmen have been assisting needy persons, not just Seventh-day Adventists. We also assist churches that are under construction. We are prepared to work and give free labour and they pay for some of the things (for those who are needy), but we can't afford to give them all free labour, but if there are individuals who can afford it, who can pay, the league is prepared to give them a discount. It's a way to create employment and help other people. If there is a disaster, we have the men on alert to give a helping hand."
The church has also used this programme as an outreach initiative as not all members of the leagues are Seventh-day Adventists, but members from the church communities are involved in the programme as well.
"Some of the members of the league are not Seventh-day Adventists. It's to show that it's not a denominational thing. It's a means of reaching out. We are involved in the communities. We want not just our members to be involved, but the community folk," the pastor said.
Denton Nation from the St Elizabeth HEART Trust/NTA says that the individuals in the programme are trained through the Workforce Solutions Department and receive on-the-job certification at Level Two. This certification is free of cost for the most part, except for a small registration fee.
"The West Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists organised what is called a tradesmen league," said Nation. "The Conference approached us to provide certification to these skilled men. This is the first group of tradesmen (for St Elizabeth) that we have completed assessment of and they're recommended now for graduation. They are having a graduation in November at the Northern Caribbean University, where they will receive their certification," Nation said.
Thompson added that if there were individuals within the parishes of St Elizabeth, Westmoreland, Hanover, or St, James who wanted to receive this Level Two certification from the HEART Trust, they should make contact with the nearest Seventh- day Adventist church.