Some 83 unattached youths have completed a year-long vocational skills training programme under the Citizen Security and Justice Programme II (CSJPII), in collaboration with the HEART Trust/NTA.
The participants, who were trained from February 2011 to February 2012, now have Level Three certification in the areas of food preparation, AC refrigeration, welding and electrical installation/maintenance.
A graduation exercise was held at the Operation Friendship offices in Kingston on Thursday (May 10).
Hailing from several vulnerable and volatile communities served by the CSJP, the graduates are mainly at-risk youth (persons who have dropped out of school, are in violent street gangs, or are being released from correctional institutions back into their communities). The training was offered in order to provide these youth with alternatives to minimise the effects of the risks to which they have been exposed.
Minister of National Security Hon. Peter Bunting, in a speech read by Chief Technical Officer in the Ministry, Vivian Brown, commended the participants on having attained a marketable skill, which he said was “a passport that allows you to enter a wider field of opportunity.”
He said with this skill, the participants could choose to get a job; start their own business; or use it as a stepping stone to higher education, adding that that their achievement can be an example for other young people who may be tempted to drop out of school, join a gang, or commit a crime.
Mr. Bunting noted that improving one’s marketability was essential, especially among at-risk youth, as the choices are limited for young persons who face poverty, with no education, no skill and no work experience.
“Unemployment, poverty, inadequate education, the absence of skills and hopelessness are strong motivators for crime and violence. Youth need alternative paths that take them out of poverty and powerlessness – if they are willing to make the effort,” he said.
He praised the CSJP II for responding to this need, working in 50 communities across the island, addressing problems of individuals, families and communities that contribute to crime and violence.
Along with institutions such as Operation Friendship, the CSJP also partnered with a number of other entities, including the Young Men's Christian Association(YMCA), Rockfort Vocational Training Centre, Garmex Academy, Jamaica/German Auto School (JAGAS), St. Pious Skills Training Centre, among others, to deliver its programmes.
The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), which has collaborated with the CSJP in providing job placement for trainees over the past two years, has agreed to provide placements for 32 of the 83 youngsters (welders and electricians) for a period of six months. This commenced in April. Arrangements are also being made with other private and public sector organisations for additional placements.employability prospects.
CSJP II seeks to contribute to crime and violence reduction in 50 volatile and vulnerable communities through the financing and implementation of prevention and strategic interventions to address identified individual, family and community risk factors.