The Jamaican conglomerate GraceKennedy Limited will be launching a formal internship programme, starting in January 2013, to provide practical experience to graduates with first degrees, but who have no working experience and thus struggle to find employment.
The programme is the initiative of GraceKennedy’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Don Wehby.
Speaking at the launch of the Mona School of Business and Management at the University of the West Indies recently, Wehby noted the plight of young graduates to gain experience in the work world in their bid to get jobs.
“Too often I have heard criticism that the University of the West Indies turns out graduates who are theoretically sound, but deficient in practical experience,” he said.
Wehby noted that he had seen many jobs being advertised, with potential employers requiring experience in the particular fields as a criterion for application.
“This would disqualify so many bright, talented and promising young graduates,” he said. “GraceKennedy wants to change that by giving them the opportunity to get some useful experience.”
The programme will be open to a maximum of 15 students per year “with exceptionally good first degrees but no working experience.” GraceKennedy said in a release.
Participants will be rotated for a year in all the areas in which GraceKennedy operates – food processing and distribution, banking and finance, insurance and remittance services, and building materials retailing.
They will be paid a basic salary and will be assessed at the end of that year, with the possibility of gaining full time employment within the organization should they perform outstandingly, the release said.
GraceKennedy’s Group Chief Human Resource Officer will have oversight for the programme.
“Once all details have been worked out, the programme will be advertised and applicants interviewed to fill the spaces,” the release added.
Wehby is encouraging corporate players who are not already doing so to launch similar programmes and to envisage possibilities that can exist by honing the skills of bright young talent. He said those individuals could become tremendous assets to organizations across Jamaica.
“Let’s not see hiring young graduates as an added cost. Let’s see it an as investment, in our own companies, and ultimately, in Jamaica,” he said.