— Mercy Corps Interim Country Director Tells National Cadet Program graduates
Mercy Corps Interim Country Director, Geraldine Nina Taka, has urged graduates of the National Cadet Program (NCP) to continue to strive for excellence and use the training they have acquired from the program to become proactive entrepreneurs and push for opportunities.
Addressing 61 cadets out of 71 deployed cadets, Madam Taka told the graduates to prepare for huge responsibilities, as they will eventually take over the country’s leadership in the future.
She lauded the Liberian government’s efforts for providing an enabling environment for young people to acquire technical and vocational education and creating job opportunities for young people.
“I am honored to make these remarks on behalf of Mercy Corps and we would like to express our gratitude to the Swedish Agency for International Development Cooperation (SIDA), which has enabled us to gather here today to celebrate our graduates.”
In her keynote address, Elizabeth Harleman, Deputy Ambassador of Sweden and Head of the Swedish Agency for Development Cooperation (SIDA), said the Swedish Government has made a significant contribution to the development and capacity–building of thousands of young Liberians, and is still promoting youth development in Liberia.
She said the Government of Liberia’s Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) places emphasis on youth development; noting that youth make up half of the country’s population and therefore they need to be empowered to take the responsibility of moving Liberia forward.
“Empowering young men and women in Liberia cannot be done in a vacuum, this stage must constantly strive to provide the opportunity and young people must be able to demonstrate the will and commitment to utilize the provided opportunities,” she added.
She said that the Ministry of Youth and Sports’ cadet programs would help put in place the production of suitable human resources capable of serving the needs of the Liberian economy and contributing to poverty reduction.
“I am proud of your achievement today; you are the light of the new Liberia, and people like you who continue to take small steps to improve and contribute to Liberia are the true hero of your beloved country. In so doing, I would like to call on all the graduates to begin to focus on questions such as: What is the economic opportunity you and the young people of Liberia are seeing for yourselves? Moreover, what can you do individually to solve your daily problems in your community? You need to start thinking about what kind of future you want for yourself and that of Liberian Youth,” she told the graduates.
She also told the graduates that it is important to contribute efforts to the economic prosperity and the stability of their society.
The SIDA head further called on the graduates to go out and make the change that Liberia needs. “Let me say that no one is too big or small to make a change, and that’s why I want you to be inspired. Once you think you have the power to change things. Sweden has a feminist point policy; this ensures we maintain gender equality in everything we do. It is our hope that we will not leave anyone behind as we try to empower the young people of Liberia and to give you the tools to move Liberia forward. But even with the tool, getting things done requires a collective effort.”
Isaac N. Doe, Deputy Youth and Sports Minister for Youth Development, thanked the Swedish government and Mercy Corps for the support.
He said, each phase of the program lasts for six (6) months; three months of preparation and recruitment, and the other three for actual deployment (work) period. The cadets went through professional training and mentorship at host agencies and businesses including Access Bank, Liberia, Civil Service Agency (CSA), Insurance Company of Africa (ICA), Internal Audit Agency (IAA), etc.
Three hundred and fifteen candidates (315) were shortlisted out of the one thousand three hundred and thirty-six (1,346) applicants. After a week-long interview conducted by host ministries and agencies, civil society organizations and the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the final candidates were chosen. The team reached out to approximately 24 public and private institutions to host cadets and 13 of them accepted to host the 71 cadets.
The NCP is designed by the government to provide entry-level opportunities in both private and public sectors for young Liberians who are recent graduates or graduating seniors from the universities or vocational institutions and between the ages of 18 to 35 to acquire relevant job experience and possible employment. The graduation exercise marks the close of the second batch of the 2019 National Cadet Program that saw seven (7) of the graduates retained in their various places of deployment (3 retained at Access bank, 3 retained at IAA and 1 retained at CSA).
The National Cadet Program is carried out in partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, with funding from the Government of Sweden.