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“Building future leaders through cultural exchange ” – WYSE chats with Askia, CEO at The Students’ Work and Travel Programme (SWAT)

18 July 2016
18 Jul 2016 -

Students’ Work and Travel Ltd (S.W.A.T.) is a diversified company that offers services for overseas work and travel, study and cultural exchange. WYSE Travel Confederation spoke to Askia, CEO at S.W.A.T about how they help students to achieve social development, through cultural exchange, that is geared towards achieving self-independence, country development and world integration.

Tell us your story. How did your business get started?

The Students’ Work and Travel Programme (SWAT) was developed for university students to embark on an adventure to experience life and culture in the United States, through international education and work exchange.S.W.A.T. Ltd started in October 2006 after our CEO himself was for two years a beneficiary of the program. At that time we only recruited and placed 27 students on the J1 Cultural Exchange program to the US from Jamaica. Our CEO was later awarded Student Entrepreneur of the year in 2007, after increasing from 27 students to 184 students in one year. He then received the prestigious Prime Ministers’ Youth Award for Entrepreneurship in 2008, followed by a five star rank from Jamaica’s Ministry of Labour (which only two of 50 agencies received) in 2009.

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With a growing database from 27 placed students in 2007 to 670 placed students in 2016, S.W.A.T has positioned itself as a Top Performing Work & Travel Recruiter in Jamaica.

In 2015, we successfully launched Swat Canada Study and Work Program and have already began welcoming students to Canada who have been successful in receiving their study permit from the Canadian High Commission. Our goal is to now launch additional J-1 and Internship programs to regions such as Europe, South America, Africa, Asia, Australia and the Caribbean by 2020.

Our vision is to help young people travel across the world to benefit from “mutual understanding amongst member countries towards fostering world peace”. This we believe is truly reflective of our mantra, “Building a better World Through Cultural Exchange”.

What are your unique selling points? What makes you different?

Our company has built a reputation as a student centred organization that provides quality service to our customers.  Our team sees it as a duty to serve our clients and as such we ensure throughout the process that students are successfully placed in jobs and have the requisite paper work processed in a timely manner, so they can arrive in time for their start dates. What sets us apart is:

  • Our five star rating from the Ministry of Labour
  • The extraordinary customer service we offer our clients
  • How reliable we are in the vetting and placing of students in jobs
  • Our qualified and trained staff who for the most part have themselves been past participants of the Work & Travel Program
  • Our 10 years of expertise in the industry
  • An all-inclusive package we offer our clients, which covers job placement, housing arrangement, SEVIS fee, Insurance, DS-2019 Form, program photo and 24 hour assistance to students while overseas
  • Our Online Portal that facilitates us recruiting students from across the region
  • NO Hidden Fees Policy
  • Our Sponsoring Partners who are credible Companies with a good track record in the Work & Travel Industry

What are some of your success stories?

Ambassador Scholars

Through Partnership with one of our partners CCI Greenheart, we have been able to sponsor eight students to date, to participate as ambassadors on the Work & Travel Program. These are all exceptional stuswat6dents doing environmental and social volunteer projects in both their home communities and the communities they live in, while overseas. Our ambassadors are able to immerse themselves in the U.S. culture, while sharing our very own culture with other internationals abroad. Participants also benefit monetarily from CCI by receiving cash incentives of up to US$500 to go towards a home or volunteer project of their choice, back in their home country.

Stemming from this initiative, one of our Scholars, Sushania Pryce, was able to donate her Alumni Grant towards a kidney surgery for a nine year old student, whose family was financially unable to independently fund the procedure.
 

Staff Outreach Programs to Homes

Our caring staff has worked over the years with our partners on outreach programs both for our youth and senior citizens. In 2014 we visited the Jamaica National Children’s Home that
houses wards of the state whose age group ranges from 2-18. We hosted a treat for the children and used the day to assist with their chores and participate in games and group swat1activities.In 2015 our team visited the Vineyard Town Golden Age Home where we provided lunch for the occupants. With assistance from CCI Greenheart, donations of Toiletries and foot wear were made. The team also spent the day interacting with the group.

In 2016, we had the opportunity to visit the Jamaica Christian Boys Home. Our team had a wonderful time interacting with the teens and encouraging them. It was a day filled with games, food and activities. A special donation of games was made to the home for the benefit of the teens living there.

 What are your future plans?

Our future plans for SWAT is to extend our reach beyond only J-1 Programs in the United States. Our aim is to also make available Internship, Study and Work Programs, Migration and Teaching Opportunities for Jamaicans in regions such as Europe, South America, Africa, Asia, Australia and the Caribbean, by 2020.

What was your motivation to join WYSE Travel Confederation?

We believe that being a member of this confederation offers a range of possibilities for our company to grow beyond being just a J-1 Work And Travel Company. Through our membership we know that greater networking relationships will be formed that will bring Swat greater collaboration with other institutions across the globe. Additionally, easier access to current research and updates on the industry would be gained.

Find out more at www.studentsworkntravel.com