State Minister Urges Companies to Provide Work Experience for Graduates

State Minister for Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (STEM), Hon. Julian Robinson, is challenging public and private sector companies to invest in human resources, by providing work experience for university graduates.

He said this will enable them to transition into the world of work, as many students leaving universities have a hard time finding a job, due to their lack of experience.

Mr. Robinson was addressing the launch of Petrojam’s graduate internship programme at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel on Tuesday, February 5, where 10 interns who have been employed by the State-owned oil refinery, were presented.

Congratulating Petrojam on the initiative, which he said bridges the gap between university and the world of work.

“I’m bombarded by calls and emails from persons who are seeking job. Many of them are tertiary graduates who are having tremendous difficulty in finding a job,” the State Minister said.

He said these types of initiatives are not just beneficial to the interns, but the companies as well.

“It allows you an opportunity to recruit the best , because you know at the end of that one year internship programme, you have someone who understands your operations, is attuned to the industry, understands your culture, and can fit right in, so this is something that is mutually beneficial,” he added.

Meanwhile, State Minister Robinson said given the Government’s commitment to reduce dependence on imported oil, by diversifying energy sources, this is an opportune and exciting time for persons seeking to join the sector. He said the country needs to develop and benefit more from the skills and input of local experts in this field, and be less reliant on procuring outside expertise.

“When you think of the millions of dollars we spend if we have to repair a tank… we always have to go abroad…it shouldn’t be so. I am hoping that in a number of years, when we look at the mix of Petrojam’s procurement, that we have specific skill sets here,” Mr. Robinson said.

The group, which comprised mainly graduates of the University of Technology (UTech), will work with Petrojam for a year and have the opportunity to acquire and develop new skills and to improve their marketability in the world of work.

Providing an overview of the programme, Manager of the company’s Human Resource Division and Administration, Andrea Bent, said that in recognition of the difficulties that graduates with no practical experience face when seeking employment, the company had decided to implement the programme which is aimed at providing valuable work experience.

“We sent letters to the major universities throughout Jamaica and flyers were also posted. We received approximately 80 applications, and after going through a rigourous interview process, 10 interns were selected to commence on January 2,” she outlined.

She said that in addition to creating opportunities for graduates, the programme seeks to augment the technical capacity of Petrojam in the execution of its mandate and to create a talent pool for future recruitment.

At the end of each quarter, the interns will be assessed by supervisors who will give a report on their progress.

“The assessments mirror the real life performance appraisal process that we have within the organisation, so the graduates will be able to experience what a performance evaluation process is like,” she explained.

Towards the end of the programme, they will be given training in interviewing skills, and assistance on how to prepare their resumes.

This internship will end in December and another pool of graduates will be taken on in January 2014.