The PEP programme, which was hastily started under the former Douglas-led Administration, under the dark cloud of a Motion of No Confidence, was heavily criticized by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for being poorly organized, where out of over four thousand persons enrolled on the programme, only about one hundred and thirty (130) had received any real training. It was not value for money. The programme also came in for serious scrutiny from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that said that the programme, which was supposed to be only a short-term training programme, was hemorrhaging the public purse. The IMF shared its concerns that such a programme was not fiscally sustainable and that people being trained on the short-term programme should find productive work or set up their own businesses to contribute to the productive sector, the engine of growth.
The PEP commenced in December, 2012. According to Prime Minister Harris, “PEP has been funded to the tune of EC$ 196,203,733.88. Of this amount, $193,368,347.06 came from the SIDF (Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation) and $2.7 million from the Federal Government, and remainder from interest and other income.”
On August 31, 2016, a team from the PEP Office headed by Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister charged with the responsibility for PEP, Mr. Osbert DeSuza, met with a team from the National Skills Training Institute, with its director, Mrs. June James. The management of the PEP recognizes that the National Skills Training Programme’s quick response to training needs has made it the most dynamic and flexible vocational programme of the Government in St. Kitts and Nevis. The NSTP offers non-formal, flexible, short term training. It facilitates training for a wide cross-section of the population, from school dropouts to professionals.
Additionally, on September 01, a meeting was held with the TVET (Technical Vocational Education and Training) Secretariat, the National Skills Training Institute and the PEP Department, where Dr. Neva Pemberton, Coordinator for the CDB (Caribbean Development Bank) funded TVET intervention (which has a PEP component), in giving consultancy service, discussed a review of the terms of reference for the PEP. A decision was made to reactivate and reenergize the PEP Oversight Committee, taking on board partners and stakeholders in the process.
The next meeting of the PEP, TVET Secretariat and National Training Institute will take place on September 07, 2016. After that meeting interviews for PEP trainees will commence.
In the most recent development, all trainees based at the Newtown Community Center were informed on September 1 that they will finally be assigned where their skills can be better utilized within the workforce. The trainees were also informed that they will continue to receive their stipends.
For more than three years, the trainees have been involved in areas including cosmetology, office management and computer graphics. The courses were intended to be short-term.
According to Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr. Osbert DeSuza, an extensive evaluation of the programme at the Newtown Community Center has been completed and all the trainees will be placed on internship. Seventeen (17) of the trainees from the Newtown Community Center, who received training in Cosmetology, have since been assigned to cosmetology businesses.