Mercy Corps Liberia Graduates 52 Apprentices

By David A. Yates

Mercy Corps Liberia has graduated and certificated 52 (35 female and 17 male) young Liberians after successful completion of a three-month intensive apprenticeship (on-the-job training) program sponsored by the Swedish Government and supported by 20 private sector businesses in Gbarnga, Bong County.

Known as ‘Promoting Sustainable Partnership for Economic Transformations (PROSPECTS)’, the program supports young and energetic Liberians (15-35 years) to find meaningful employment opportunities or become entrepreneurs, by tapping into private-sector creativity and initiatives.

The ceremony, which took place on Friday, July 5, 2019 at the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) Conference Hall in Gbarnga, Bong County, brought together several individuals, including the graduates’ parents and other relatives, invited community and county officials, host businesses and Mercy Corps staff all graced the occasion.

The PROSPECTS program aims at working with a public-private partnership to create employment opportunities for youth, as well as, support learning from program results, and research activities drawn from program implementation, targeting other youth organization, national policy actors and improved program delivery triggering greater coordination between the young people, duty-bearers and stakeholders.

According to Mercy Corps PROSPECTS Program Manager Mr. Nyema J. Richards, the underlining logic is that all youth can be supported to empower themselves and make productive contributions to their communities.

This cycle of the program, Mr. Richards noted, was intended to empower young Liberians to find meaningful market-driven opportunities for employment and self-employment to increase their skills and self-confidence and improve their livelihood.

The Mercy Corps’ Manager lauded the Swedish Government through its Embassy near Monrovia for funding PROSPECTS phase 3, which targets a total of about 20,000 young Liberians in Bong, Montserrado and Nimba counties, respectively.

He said that to date, they have reached a total of 11,394 young people with different employment and entrepreneurial skills development and opportunities in the three program locations mentioned.

The project, he added, has three objectives, including Employment and Entrepreneurship, Social Business for Employment and Results, Learning and Research.

Entrepreneurship program, beneficiaries are trained in business knowledge and given a small grant to help them start their own businesses.

Richards also said Mercy Corps is not just providing training and seed funds for small business start-ups, but also is supporting 25 private sector SMEs with grant-financing and advisory support to stimulate growth and development and provide additional job creation for youth.

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 He mentioned that with 12 businesses already benefiting from the Social Business for Employments scheme, 73 full-time and part-time jobs have been created in the past 10 months.

In his remarks, the keynote speaker, Jefferson Massah, Internews Senior Community Radio Advisor, urged the graduates to be persistent and have passion, which he believes, it will land them on their career path.

He reminded the graduates that persistence and passion come with responsibility in order for one to move forward in life.

‘It is not about the money, don’t attach yourself to any amount especially, when you cannot make an impact at any workplace, because most jobs cannot give you the amount of money you want but experiences,” Massah told the graduates.

“I have no doubt that as you the young people take advantage of this program and inspire yourself, you will also inspire many other youths who are looking for meaning and direction to improve their wellbeing and that of their communities,” he said.

Harry G. Doblah, Mercy Corps Program Coordinator in Gbarnga, told the audience “we enrolled a total of 52 apprentices of which we have 35 Female and 17 Male apprentices, were deployed to 20 businesses in the county and serving different capacities.”

Mr. Doblah added that at the end of the apprenticeship 20 out of 52 (which constituted 39 per cent) already have been offered job by the businesses and based on that result, “we are very grateful to those businesses that accepted and retained our apprentices,” amidst of applause.

Sreejon Deb, Mercy Corps Programs Director made remarks by giving thanks to the host businesses for their support and encouraging graduates to demonstrate their continuous efforts to find appropriate jobs with the skills that they have gained in entire three months’ apprenticeship.

He, then, presented the business plaques to the apprentices’ host businesses for their support in making the apprenticeship experience meaningful and distributed certificates to the graduates at the ceremony.

One of the beneficiaries, Hawa Tamba, who spoke on behalf of the graduating class expressed gratitude to Mercy Corps Liberia family and Swedish Government for Funding PROSPECTS 3 Activities and providing these opportunities for Liberians youth.

Mercy Corps is a global team of humanitarians that partner with communities, corporations, governments and individuals turning crises into opportunities for sustainable change and transforming lives around the world.

Source: Observer

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