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Audit of National Skills Training Programme Nears End, Gov’t Aims to Reduce Instances of Abuse

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by Kevon Browne

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Director of the Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP) Emile Greene confirmed that the audit conducted on the program will conclude at month-end.

The audit was commissioned by the government to address instances of wastage and unqualified persons receiving support.

 

“We want to eliminate – not just reduce – that kind of arrangement where people are being paid, and they are not working, or they are not working for a whole week, or they are not working for a full day, but yet they are being paid eight hours a day,” said Director Greene.

The programme has identified instances of employees earning salaries despite not attending to their duties in private sector businesses.

Highlighting circumstances where people assigned to private businesses do not turn out to work, citing that one reason observed included STEP trainees who might be a family member or have a friendship with the owner of a business.

In response, STEP is evaluating workers from the program who are assigned to private sector businesses.

Prime Minister, the Hon. Dr. Timothy Harris confirmed that the Federation has disbursed, over EC$160 Million in payments and benefits to STEP workers.

Dr. Harris responded to claims by some members of the public that some persons on training attachments were not compensated for their time and services.

“STEP workers were paid,” Dr. Harris said The Government has never stopped the payment of STEP workers. “If persons were not paid, they had particular issues unrelated to the lockdown… and that would be a very small number [of people] if that situation ever [existed].”

The audit started in March 2021 and is expected to properly verify the number of people who are attached for training in the private sector; where they are located within each community; and determines the various types of businesses participating in the grassroots programme.

Questions have been raised by the community and media on the programme’s regulation and compliance practices.

The current audit, expected to be completed at the end of the month will update the STEP Management Information System and make the data available for public access. Once completed the general public will be able to readily access the information on the programmes management and its proposed outcomes.

A similar audit should commence on Nevis and is expected to be completed in a shorter time frame.

 

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