New Employment Opportunities for Youth in Jamaica

Photo: Mark Bell Governor General, His Excellency, the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen (3rd left, standing); and Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid (left, standing), look on as Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Caribbean Country Department General Manager, Therese Turner-Jones (left seated) and Chairman of Youth Upliftment Through Employment (YUTE) Limited, Joseph Matalon (centre), shake hands following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the New Employment Opportunities for Youth In Jamaica (NEO-Jamaica) project launch at King’s House on June 3. Others looking on (from 2nd left standing) are: Head of Corporate Relations, Red Stripe, Diane Ashton Smith; Director General, Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Colin Bullock; Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ), Dennis Chung; Executive Director, YUTE, Alicia Glasgow Gentles; and General Manager, Caribbean Cement Company Limited, Alejandro Vares (right, seated).

Story Highlights

  • Approximately 10,000 unattached young people, aged 17 and 29, are expected to benefit from the $1.6 billion (US$9.3 million) New Employment Opportunities for Youth in Jamaica (NEO-Jamaica) project.
  • Education, Youth and Information Minister, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, also endorsed the initiative, noting that public-private sector partnership is essential in addressing youth unemployment.
  • Meanwhile, YUTE Chairman, Joseph Matalon, highlighted a Statistical Institute of Jamaica’s (STATIN) report which noted that youth unemployment stood at 30.3 per cent in October 2015.

Approximately 10,000 unattached young people, aged 17 and 29, are expected to benefit from the $1.6 billion (US$9.3 million) New Employment Opportunities for Youth in Jamaica (NEO-Jamaica) project.

Its implementation aims to broaden training and employment opportunities for marginalized and vulnerable youth.

The project is being spearheaded under the Youth Upliftment Through Employment (YUTE) initiative of the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ), with inputs from several other partners.

These include the Ministries of Labour and Social Security, and Science, Energy and Technology.

NEO-Jamaica is being jointly financed by the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), and local stakeholder partners.

The project is slated to run from 2016 to 2018, during which the participants will receive vocational training, and job placement opportunities expected to be provided by approximately 100 partner companies that will also offer internships.

It will provide participants with the skills to fill in-demand occupations; build the capacity of key national youth training and service provider organizations; strengthen job placement entities; and align training programmes in educational institutions with labour market requirements.

NEO-Jamaica was launched by Governor-General, His Excellency, the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, who is the programme’s Patron, during a ceremony at King’s House on June 3.

In welcoming the project, the Governor-General lauded the public-private sector collaboration facilitating it.

“This (is a) pioneering effort in which businesses, government and civil society join forces to provide resources, knowledge, and capacities in order to implement efficient and sustainable youth employment solutions,” he said.

Education, Youth and Information Minister, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, also endorsed the initiative, noting that public-private sector partnership is essential in addressing youth unemployment.

In this regard, he gave an undertaking to “work with the private sector to refashion the Jamaican education system, because we have to recalibrate it to deal with the realities of the 21st century.”

Meanwhile, YUTE Chairman, Joseph Matalon, highlighted a Statistical Institute of Jamaica’s (STATIN) report which noted that youth unemployment stood at 30.3 per cent in October 2015.

“While the negative trajectory has been slowing over the past few years, youth unemployment is still more than double the national unemployment rate. Finding solutions requires that youth be empowered and enabled to make use of their talents and spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship, to bring about the changes we need,” he said.

NEO-Jamaica is part of a regional youth empowerment initiative incorporating countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The NEO initiative, which was launched at the Sixth Summit of the Americas in Colombia 2012, aims to assist one million vulnerable youths across these regions by 2022.

Jamaica is the first English-speaking country and the 11th nation to join the programme.

Other local partners are: HEART Trust /NTA and the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ).

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