Largest Antigua career prep workshop a ‘turning point’ for youth

career-workshopST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Saturday November 29, 2014 – The region’s leading microfinance institution is tackling a significant problem in the Eastern Caribbean that has far reaching negative implications for the future workforce in the region.

As part of a regional programme, Axcel Finance, has been holding a series of Career Preparation Workshops for soon-to-be graduates to get them mentally and emotionally ready and to be more professional in their approach to “job seeking” and job interviews.

The latest island to benefit is Antigua and Barbuda where over 400 secondary school and tertiary level students gathered at the Multi-Purpose Centre on Tuesday November 18, 2014.

The organizers of the Career Preparation Workshop identified this issue as one which requires both urgent and ongoing attention. Axcel CEO, Samuel Rosenberg, explained:

“On a daily basis our company receives scores of resumes and also interviews young persons who wish to join our organization. Over 95% of these resumes are replete with errors – badly written in terms of grammar, spelling and style and unprofessional in presentation. Most of them are not even sure why they want a job. When they do attend a job interview, some come dressed inappropriately, and lack confidence. We also realized that many of the country’s employers face similar challenges. It is against this background that we decided to embark on these Career Preparation Workshops – across the region where we serve – and to provide additional support for some of the schools.”

The list of speakers for Workshops were drawn from the cross-section of the country including: Mr. Kyle Christian, a journalist from the Observer Media Group, who cautioned the students to be careful of their use of social media as an avenue of expression and that they should be mindful of what they post since potential employers could use social media to research them. Curtain Bluff’s HR Manager, Ms. Anique Goodwin, spoke about how to prepare for the interview. She emphasised the importance of being well-groomed and well-dressed as the first impression will likely to be the deciding factor. Two students from Antigua State College participated in a mock interview to demonstrate how to respond to some of the key questions which are likely to be asked during a job interview and can determine whether or not they land the job. Concluding the workshop was Antiguan and international HR expert and life coach, Ms. Shirleene Nibbs, who gave an outstanding presentation on the importance of identifying your skills and strengths as you decide on your career path.

The workshop was held in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, Sports, Youth, and Gender Affairs. The Director of Education, Ms. Jacinta Pringle opened the workshop and complimented Axcel for their investment in youth.

Representing the Government, Senator Michael Freeland, indicated this programme is an example of the benefit of private – public sector collaboration. He also highlighted some of the industries in Antigua which can be great career choices.

The half-day exercise was a resounding success with many participants claiming that it marked a turning point in their lives. “This is the first time I have been truly brought face to face with my future as it relates to getting employment after I leave school,” noted a Form 5 student from Clare Hall Secondary. Another student form Princess Margret Secondary revealed: “Axcel’s workshop opened my eyes to explore different career paths and how to be mentally and physically prepared in terms of writing my CV and prepping for the all-important interview.” A State College student added: “The speakers were excellent. I never understood how important it was to give attention to preparing for the job interview and choosing a career or simply writing my resume. Axcel certainly changed my perspective from this workshop and I feel way more confident and empowered.”

Axcel Finance CEO also noted that apart from its social responsibility which it is committed to, this Career Workshop is naturally linked to its core mission: “Axcel Finance has at the centre of its philosophy a deep concern for the region’s youth. In our overall mission to address unmet financial needs leading to better quality of life for citizens – we are mindful that a professional and vibrant workforce are vital pillars to build a strong nation and region. Youth are a significant contributor to this. Therefore, tackling the fundamental issue of preparing the youth for the world of work, is an important first step in the right direction. We remain committed to this!”

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