Working for free pays off for driven landscapers
Dakhari Wade had only recently graduated from high school when he heard about a scheme that offered the possibility of a permanent job – if he worked for five months without pay.
The Skills Development Programme promised to teach people about landscaping and horticulture as well as the importance of basic things employers expect, such as being punctual.
His options slim, Mr Wade signed up. He is glad he took the leap of faith – the 24-year-old is now on the staff of the Department of Works and Engineering and is working towards the launch of his own landscaping company.
“It was pretty hard to get a job at that point in time – even now it’s hard I guess,” he said. “But it was especially hard for someone who finished high school and didn’t really have any qualifications and had no experience.
“Honestly I can’t even think about what I would be doing right now if I didn’t do the programme. It’s been that helpful.”
Lakeisha Davis is nearing the end of her training with the SDP and is impressed with all that she has learnt so far.
“I like to have multiple certificates underneath my belt,” she said. “I saw the ad and thought it would be nice, another skill for me to have so I joined up.
“I did take a liking to landscaping because I like planting. I thought, I might as well do the full nine yards.”
The 32-year-old was delivering for Sargasso Sea Ltd when she signed up but now works as a security officer when not training. Her hope is to find a job in landscaping when she completes the course, hopefully in another two months.
“I’ve been there a little bit longer because I joined and then Covid brought everything to a stop. Basically we’re going through everything again because a bunch of new people started – I don’t mind getting more experience.
“I look at it as do as much volunteer work as you can. You can always get a job out of it. Don’t always expect to get paid for stuff. You keep helping out and it’s going to look good on you. And then if you need a reference from somebody it can help.”
She’s especially appreciative of Roger Parris, a Parks Department staff member who created the programme and volunteers his time for it.
“Roger cares for everybody,” Ms Davis said. “He likes to help people even outside the programme. If somebody needs a little hustle or anything like that, he gives them a hustle to help them out. We need more people like him.”
Mr Wade found a job within a month or two of completing his training. He stayed at Sousa’s Landscape Management Co Ltd for two years before moving on to his current job.
“I know there were a lot of times I felt like quitting, just leaving, going home and trying to find a job doing anything, but I’m glad I didn’t,” he said of his time at SDP. “A lot of people now they see where I’m working and say, ‘Oh he’s lucky’. They don’t realise all the time I spent to be able to have this opportunity, all the work that was put in.”
For anyone unwilling to put in the effort without pay, he had the following advice:
“I would say if your living situation is that comfortable that you could really sit there and say that then OK. But for most people, who need work and can’t find it, rather than sit around your house and not do anything, at least this is doing something constructive. At the very least you get some sort of experience so maybe when you go to apply for a job they say OK, we can see that you know something.”
For landscaping work contact Dakhari Wade: email@example.com