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On The Job Training Programs In Jamaica  Earn While You Learn

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On The Job Training Programs in Jamaica | Heart NSTA TrustOn The Job Training Programs in Jamaica | Heart NSTA Trust

By Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer

We have spoken about higher education before, I have even gone into the scholarships available here in Jamaica. However, the truth is, not everyone will get a scholarship, and not everyone will be able to afford a tertiary education either, so what should they do? Are there any options?

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This is where the Heart NSTA Trust comes in. You may know them for the various skill programmes that they offer, but there is so much more that they do.

One of my most pleasant surprises is that they offer free career guidance and counselling. You can quite literally walk in and ask to speak with a career counsellor who will listen to you and provide guidance on what to do next all while highlighting all the ways the Heart NSTA Trust can help you get to where you want to be.

And as a disclaimer let me add, this is not just for youngsters just leaving school. Your age does not matter. I had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Francis at the Montego Bay branch and he offered so much insight on my own career journey, that I will forever be grateful for.

Money is one of the main things that stops many of us in our tracks, in our pursuit of higher education. Fortunately, the Heart NSTA Trust offers several on-the-job training programs that provide you with an income, while you get hands-on experience while earning your certificate or degree in whatever area you choose.

Their program consists of five stages, and you can join or leave at any stage:

1. Pre-entry
2. Entry
3. Intermediate
4. Advanced
5. Graduate

What are the on the job training programs in Jamaica?

So let’s look at the programs available:

SLTOP - School Leavers’ Training Opportunities Program | Duration: 1 to 3 years

The School Leavers’ Training Opportunities Program (SLTOP) is tailored for recent school leavers, aged 17 to 23, with at least two CXC or GCE passes. It bridges the gap between school and work by providing up to a year of practical experience in private or public sector firms.

As a SLTOP Trainees you will:

  • Develop job readiness and an understanding of workplace nuances.
  • Acquire in-demand industry skills and experience for future employment or advanced training.
  • Enhance your overall employability and core skills.

GWEP - Graduate Work Experience Program | Duration: 6 months

The Graduate Work Experience Program (GWEP) is designed for graduates aged 17 to 29 with little or no work experience in their field. Offered in both private and public sectors, it provides practical and experiential knowledge of the working environment, contributing to personal and professional growth.

As a GWEP Participant you will:

  • Improve your awareness of workplace demands, standards, and employer expectations.
  • Enhance your employability and core skill sets.
  • Gain a stronger practical understanding of the industry you are employed in.
  • Acquire in-demand skills and experience for future employment or advanced training.

Empowerment Program | Duration: 6 months

The Empowerment Program offers work experience to individuals aged 17 to 34 with mild physical or intellectual disabilities. Participants work in selected private and public sector firms and are guided by a Job Coach while also attending a three-week non-residential camp.

Empowerment Program Participants Will:

  • Improve personal, social, and professional skills.
  • Strengthen employability.
  • Access employment and transition to other HEART training programs.

HYSWP - HOPE Youth Summer Work Program | Duration: 3 weeks

The HOPE Youth Summer Work Program is designed for individuals aged 17 to 29 (up to age 34 for those with disabilities). Offered during the summer, it provides valuable work experience in various public and private sector entities.

HOPE National Service Corps Program | Duration: 6 months to 1 year

The HOPE National Service Corps Program supports unattached youth aged 17 to 29, providing apprenticeship opportunities within the National Service Corps. It focuses on developing social and technical skills to empower participants to contribute meaningfully to the country's development.

HOPE National Service Corps Participants Will:

  • Develop and strengthen technical skills.
  • Enhance holistic life skills, including conflict management, etiquette, and ethics.
  • Matriculate into relevant HEART programs.

RAP - Registered Apprenticeship Program | Duration: 1 to 4 years

The Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) is for individuals over 16 who have completed at least grade 9. Trainees learn directly from industry specialists in the public and private sectors, gaining internationally recognized certification.

RAP Trainees Will:
- Develop in-demand industry skills in their chosen fields.
- Improve job readiness and understanding of workplace nuances.
- Enhance overall employability and core competencies.

Depending on the program of choice, participants will either get a certificate of participation, a National Vocation Qualification Jamaica (NVQ-J) certificate, a Caribbean Vocational Certificate (CVQ) or may even get a customized certification or an HSDE certification upon completion.

I know for a fact that not many of us locals are aware of these programs and out of curiosity I decided to ask Mr. Francis a few more questions:

1. Based on your knowledge, for most of these programs do trainees end up in permanent or full-time roles at the organization they are placed in?

Response: While there has been no direct numerical research done to give a specific percentage, Just off speculation and judgement I can say that the majority of those who engage in these programs end up permanently or contractually employed by the organization.

2. Are all the regular Heart NSTA Trust skill-based programs like welding, food and beverage etc. offered under these on-the-job training programs?

Response: No, not all, but they are looking into having it implemented.

3. How would you advise a person to choose between the full-time program vs. the job program?

Response: Based on financial capabilities. If you have financial support choose the full-time programs and if you don’t choose an on-the-job program. The on-the-job programs were created to facilitate persons who are having financial difficulties.

So, if you decide to choose a program there are 2 things I would love for you to keep in mind:

  1. Studying and working is not an easy task, it will take commitment, strong dedication and willpower to get through.
  2. You will not get rich from this program. While on the program you will be paid what is essentially a stipend by the Heart, not the organization you are working for, to help you with your bare minimum requirements such as food and transportation.

So it doesn’t matter your age, whether you are just starting or just feeling stuck and unsure, the Heart NSTA Trust is there to provide you with support and opportunities to succeed.

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References & Sources For On The Job Training Programs In Jamaica

  1. On-The-Job Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved June 22, 2024, from
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