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Growth & Jobs | Young father secures employment through community intervention

Published:Tuesday | February 14, 2023 | 12:17 AM
Kristoff James
Kristoff James

Kristoff James’ reality had been to pound the pavement for the past seven months in search of a job. But at the point of giving up, the 31-year-old got a glimmer of hope when he visited an ‘open day’ event held in his community of Rose Gardens, in downtown Kingston, recently.

“I went to the corner shop, and I saw a tent nearby, and I said to myself, ‘Wow! A tent during the time of war.’

He was referring to gang warfare among neighbouring communities. “I went to the tent, and I saw a board with many different things and decided to see what was on offer,” he said.

James would later learn that Project STAR, a social and economic development initiative, could assist him in finding a job, so he immediately signed up.

A week later, he received training in various elements of self-development, including résumé writing, preparing for job interviews, effective work habits, problem solving, and managing conflict, and personal competencies.

“It was useful training. A lot of people need this as they don’t know where they are in life, and this training will help to improve them,” he said.

In less than two weeks he received several calls from job recruiters. He went on two interviews and was hired as a data entry clerk at Jamaica Money Market Brokers (JMMB).

“It was a wow feeling! I am so grateful because I have been praying night and day. When I saw this opportunity, I said to myself, ‘God, one door closes, but You said You would open many doors’,” he shared.

James, a father of two, is already adjusting to his new job. “My experience at JMMB is amazing. I like the culture there. They don’t let you feel uncomfortable. They are very friendly,” he said of his co-workers. He has high commendations for Project STAR and is encouraging others to sign up for the employment programme.

“Project STAR has helped me a lot as it has advanced my career, and I would encourage those who need a job to take up the opportunities being offered through Project STAR. I hope they don’t make it pass but seize the opportunity as it is really helpful, especially if you have qualifications,” he added, noting that Project STAR is very inclusive as they are in communities offering programmes and initiatives.

James lost his data-entry job during a redundancy exercise at his former place of employment. He has certification in business administration at Level Three from HEART Trust/NSTA and plans to go all the way to a diploma.

According to Saffrey Brown, project director of Project STAR, so far, 21 people have been trained, with 11 placed in jobs and 10 interviewed and awaiting placement. The trainees are from Parade Gardens and Rose Gardens.

The successful applicants secured positions at EXIM Bank Jamaica, Jamaica Money Market Brokers, and Sagilty Jamaica Limited, a business process outsourcing company. Brown notes that other companies are expected to come on stream.

“These participants are the first employment programme cohort to be trained. We will soon be rolling out in Westmoreland and other parishes across the island,” she said.

The participants were trained in effective work habits, workplace protocol, being a good team player, respecting diversity, time management, money management, and marketing oneself. Other aspects of the training were problem solving and managing conflict, healthy behaviours, gender roles, and stereotypes.

The training also included mock interviews and résumé writing, which were facilitated by the Human Resource Management Association of Jamaica with training in personal competencies delivered by RISE Life Management.

Dress for Success Jamaica provided professional attire for the applicants so they could attend interviews with confidence. Following the training, all of the participants were treated to a field trip at Chukka Cove Jamaica, where they participated in a team-building exercise.