For many years, the United States Virgin Islands have been a major tourist attraction with about 2.5 million tourists per year. This much tourism provides a lot of employment opportunities for its citizens. According to the U.S. Virgin Islands Bureau of Economic Research, many of these jobs fall into the following categories: Leisure and Hospitality, Retail, Accommodation and Food, as well as Food Services and Drink.
Despite all of this opportunity, the unemployment rate in the Virgin Islands is 9.94% compared to the national average of 4.9%. This is why MedCerts decided to partner with The Virgin Islands Department of Labor to help bring work readiness skills and relevant job training to the citizens of the Virgin Islands via a 'cohort learning' format.
How MedCerts does Cohort Learning
This format combined MedCerts online job training program, where students participate on their own for 16 to 20 hours per week. Then, the students attend a 2- to 4-hour group career readiness class at their local workforce office.
The initial pilot program launched in 2017 with a combined total of 57 students from both the islands of St. Croix and St. Thomas. 38 participants chose Medical Office Administration and 19 chose to enroll in the IT HelpDesk Administration training program. The individual learning allowed the students to study on their own time, while the group learning supplemented the individual lessons and allowed a sense of community and an opportunity to build relationships with fellow classmates and instructors.
At the end of the 22-week program, 83% of the students had completed their training. MedCerts visited the islands to personally commend each of the graduates on successful completion of the program but the celebration was short-lived. “Unfortunately, the hurricanes struck just as the students were preparing for the certification exams”, says Sandy Mead, National Director of Workforce Development. The loss of power and communication not only impacted the students’ ability study for and take the exams but it also temporarily suspended practically all employment.
After the storm...
Fast forward ten months later, Virgin Islands is still recovering from the hurricanes but its citizens are determined to bounce back stronger than ever. While more and more of our 2017 graduates are finally able to take their national certification exams, we are already halfway through our second Blended Learning cohort that started in May 2018. Upon completion of the certification exams, graduates will not only have access to the support of their local workforce office but they will also have access to the support of our Career Services department. While we look forward to the upcoming graduation ceremony for our second cohort in August, we are even more excited to continue working with the workforce offices to get our graduates into the workforce.
For more information about how your organization can partner with MedCerts to bring cohort learning pilot to your participants, complete the brief form below.