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Ministry of VSA and NIPA Launch Ottley Opportunity Scholarship (OOS) for Local Workforce Development, Supported by Major Investors.

ottleynipa11122023PHILIPSBURG:---  The Government of Sint Maarten, represented by the Honorable Minister of Public Health, Social Development, and Labor, Mr. Omar Ottley, has entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Institute of Professional Advancement (NIPA), represented by Drs. Peggy-Ann Dros-Richardson, Chairlady of the Board of NIPA, to establish the Ottley Opportunity Scholarship—an initiative aimed at enhancing educational opportunities and strengthening the local labor force. This groundbreaking initiative is proudly supported by major investors in line with the Scope of Service (SOS) agreements and mandate given to the honorable Minister Ottley to carry out the SOS policy.

Reflecting on the significance of this partnership, Minister Ottley remarked, "It was merely two years and some months ago that I sat here upon taking office, and we went through some logistics and concerns of NIPA. One of the concerns was the partnership and collaboration, the backing of NIPA, and the government backing NIPA. I think this was an important realization. I saw what NIPA is to the community; it offers that second chance opportunity for those who may not have excelled academically. It provides trade and different aspects of education and life. I think this is very important."

Minister Ottley emphasized the importance of recognizing the value of technical skills, stating, "Growing up, we want all our kids to be doctors and lawyers and civil engineers, which is good. But we lose the technical basic touch of trade, the foundation upon which our forefathers built this nation. This was indeed something that I found very important."

The Ottley Opportunity Scholarship program, designed to assist students facing financial difficulties, will contribute to personal development potential and promote academic excellence. The selection process will be highly competitive, focusing on extracurricular engagement, active citizenship, and financial need.

Key provisions of the MoU include:

1. Establishment of the framework for the administration and formation of the Ottley Opportunity Scholarship program.
2. NIPA providing technical vocational education through the scholarship program to strengthen the local labor market.
3. Funds for the Ottley Opportunity Scholarship program sourced from donations by local and international businesses, in accordance with Scope of Service agreements.
4. Determination of the awarding scholarship process through consultation with both participants.

Furthermore, the Ottley Opportunity Scholarship program includes a provision obligating participants to work on Sint Maarten for a specified period upon the conclusion of their educational degree, as directed by the Government.

This collaborative initiative, supported by major investors, through the Ottley Opportunity Scholarship, is poised to make a significant impact on the expansion of the labor landscape of Sint Maarten, fostering a skilled and empowered local workforce ready to contribute to the island's development.

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