May 20, 2015 By Millicent Kargbo
The National Youth Commission (NAYCOM), in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has concluded a three-day review workshop on its Career Advisory and Placement Services (CAPS) programme under the Youth Employment and Empowerment Programme supported by the UNDP.
The workshop, which was held at Fair View Hotel in Bo from 13th – 15th May, hosted the CAPS teams from the University of Sierra Leone, Njala University, Northern Polytechnic and Eastern Polytechnic.
The CAPS programme was first launched at the University of Sierra Leone, Fourah Bay College campus and Njala University, Mokonde campus in March 2011 to contribute to students’ development, marketability and employability by assisting them in choosing their career paths.
According to NAYCOM Commissioner, Anthony Koroma, one of the key aims of the review was to re-examine the activities of the CAPS in a framework that will make the programme relevant, so as to encourage the UNDP and other donors to invest in it. He said the review will create an opportunity to link up with the employers to meet their demands on the kind of young people they would preferably employ.
Commissioner Koroma noted that although the programme is supported by the UNDP and NAYCOM, “it should be assimilated by the different institutions so it could be a programme of the institutions”. He said this will make room for sustainability of the programme even when the donors would have left.
Programme Manager of the Youth Employment and Empowerment Project at UNDP, Molla Allemu, said his agency will continue to place youth development as a development priority, which is in line with the government’s ‘Agenda for Prosperity’. He said through the support of UNDP, NAYCOM has established five CAPS centres at Fourah Bay College campus, both Njala University campuses in Bo and Mokonde, and Eastern and Northern Polytechnics to provide job searching skills, career counselling and information, IT training, job placement opportunities and workshops for college and university students.
He said the review workshop was timely because there are challenges or variances in the implementation of the programme by the different centres, which can be harmonized to make it more effective.
Dr. Fatou Taqi, Director of the Academic and Careers Advisory and Counselling Services at the University of Sierra Leone, Fourah Bay College campus, said the centre is being utilized by students and staff of the three colleges making up the University of Sierra Leone. She described the centre as the “busiest place on Fourah Bay College campus” because it is one of the most effective places students could access computers.
She noted that despite executing its main function, the centre also gives support to HIV positives, especially students as it hosts a desk to counsel and share free condoms with support from the National Aids Secretariat.
The centre also holds a desk for drug abuse and misuse of drugs for students with a counsellor. She said they help students to make choices of the modules they offer so that they can be employable after graduation.