The International Labour Organization, Subregional Office for the Caribbean and the Youth Training and Employment Partnership Programme (YTEPP) Ltd. have partnered to introduce for the first time in the Caribbean, the ILO's "Know About Business (KAB)" training of trainers programme.
The KAB programme, a two-week entrepreneurship education programme, was offered to 26 small business development trainers from various institutions - YTEPP, the Ministry of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development, NEDCO, Ministry of Education, Central Bank's National Financial Literacy Programme and Youth Business Trinidad and Tobago . The training programme was held over the period 7-18 September 2009 at YTEPP's Training Centre in Trincity. It was facilitated by Professor Robert Nelson of the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership, University of Illinois, and Dr. Nabeel Goheer, ILO's Enterprise Development and Job Creation Specialist based at the ILO Subregional Office for the Caribbean in Trinidad and Tobago.
"KAB reinforces the need to explore possibilities of starting your own business, being self-employed and finding gainful employment," said Kevin Hope, a trainer of YTEPP's micro-entrepreneurship programme in Tobago. "Through exercises, we learnt of opportunities, challenges, procedures, attitudes and skills needed for entrepreneurship and business development ... I particularly liked the action-oriented style of teaching entrepreneurship - it is no longer chalk and talk, we use business games, we learn by self discovery."
The KAB programme was created by the ILO for teachers and trainers in secondary and vocational education. It has been implemented in 47 countries. The programme is aimed at creating a culture of entrepreneurship in society. It is based on a learner-centred methodology which ensures participation and productive engagement of the trainees and helps them to build confidence, become innovative and hone their leadership and teamwork skills.
"The KAB has come at a perfect time...the programme does not stand alone but can be integrated into programmes that we already have in Trinidad and Tobago," reiterated Verdelle Jeffrey, one of the participants. "Our target group is changing really fast ... it is now an instant society and we need to capture the energy, vibrancy and innovative and creative nature of our Trinbagonian population in order to harness our true potential," continued Jeffrey.
According to Kevin Hope, "KAB fits well within Trinidad and Tobago's 2020 development pillar of developing innovative people. As educators and facilitators, it is part of our responsibility to deliver the human resource capacity that our nation needs. KAB can contribute positively to increasing awareness and attitudes and towards leading Trinbagonians to have productive lives by being creative and identifying business opportunities."
In her closing address to participants, Dr. Ana Teresa Romero, Director, ILO Subregional Office for the Caribbean pointed to opportunities offered by the Economic Partnership Agreement and other trade agreements being negotiated, such as the Canada/CARICOM agreement, the negotiation for which will start in November. "There will be opportunities in the long term for exports. But you can only be a competitive exporter if you have productive and competitive enterprises in all the sectors that are going to provide you with opportunities for accessing those foreign markets. You are really laying the foundation for creating those competitive enterprises that are going to generate jobs, either for persons who wish to be self-employed or create employment for others... I therefore see you as creators of opportunities for full and productive employment and decent work in sustainable enterprises in Trinidad and Tobago."
Dr. Romero congratulated YTEPP for being an excellent partner, having worked previously with YTEPP on adapting the ILO's Start Your Business manual for use in the classroom.
YTEPP's CEO, Nigel Forgenie pointed out that YTEPP, along with the ILO, felt that it was necessary to invite other sister agencies to the KAB training in order to take forward its mandate of improving young people's lives.
"YTEPP's Strategic Plan 2007-2010 looks at the possibility of increasing the number of young entrepreneurs in Trinidad and Tobago. The KAB was a natural fit for us, because the tools that were embedded in it were sufficiently simple and dynamic to ensure that the concepts of entrepreneurship are easily grasped. This is particularly important when the diversification of the economy is such a priority and could only happen if an entrepreneurial spirit is embraced by many more citizens," said Nigel Forgenie.