Sentiments of joy and satisfaction filled the conference hall of the Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprise and Development (FRIEND) in Tuvu as 40 rural dwellers graduated with the Office Assistance Certificate from the University of the South Pacific (USP) on Monday, March 19.
The eight weeklong Youth Employment Network (YEN) training program brought additional delight to two Lautoka mothers as both have secured permanent employment now.
An elated 38-year-old Ana Maria revealed that the opportunity to undergo the training provided by USP Lautoka campus has been the biggest turning point of her life.
The mother of two from Lololo, Lautoka who has been a fulltime housewife until recently is now a permanent employee at Awesome Grills in Wailoaloa, Nadi.
Maria said she is now able to fully support her husband in ensuring that their family has a much decent livelihood.
“My dream of building a house of our own will finally become a reality and I am indebted to FRIEND organization and USP for coming up with this initiative for us unemployed and underprivileged members of the society.
“I am now motivated to further my studies at USP and will ensure both my daughters give utmost priority to their studies.”
After being unemployed for the last three years Muni Kartika Gounder now has a full time employment as an office assistant at Lautoka Ahmadiyya Primary School.
Gounder revealed that whilst being part of the training program she became an attachment employee at the school and because of the extensive knowledge she gained with USP certification she has now become a full time office staff of the institute.
USP Lautoka Campus Director Dr. Pramila Devi said this partnership between USP Lautoka and FRIEND was earmarked to provide an opportunity to unemployed youths to upskill and thus enable them to secure a decent employment.
She said the soft skills and IT skills training provided to the youths included Personal management skills, Communication skills, Writing reports and proposals, Customer service skills (critical elements), Job seeking skills, Administrative skills for office Assistant, Office ethics, Inventory management, Records management, Fundamentals of IT, Word processing, Internet and email and Electronic spreadsheets.
FRIEND Founding Director Sashi Kiran stressed that as an organization they are trying their best to ensure more youths are able to secure employment.
Kiran commended USP for coming on board with them to facilitate the program in a very participatory manner.
Meanwhile, since YEN program’s inception in 2007 its popularity has grown tremendously and FRIEND has also won the Nelson Mandela Graca Machel international award for this initiative.
The whole training program is fully funded by OXFAM and supported by the European Union and SPC Secretariat of the Pacific Community.