JIS News

Since the Jamaica 4-H Club re launched its skills training programmes in 2001, 229 young people have benefited from training, 95 per cent of whom have been able to gain employment.
Lenworth Fulton, Executive Director of the Jamaica 4-H Club, made the revelation as he addressed a graduation ceremony for participants in the tractor operation and maintenance and home economics programmes held on June 23 at the Denbigh training centre in Clarendon.
“In 2001, we re-started the training programme including the tractor, home economics and food and hospitality management training programmes and we did a course in citrus management. In 2001.we graduated eight persons, in 2002, we stepped up (and) graduated 38 persons and in 2003, we graduated 50 persons and in 2005, we graduated 133 persons, which makes the total number to be 229,” he told the gathering.
The trainees were able to gain employment as tractor and heavy equipment operators in the sugar and bauxite industries as well as at the island’s seaports, while others found work in restaurants and hotels or were self-employed, informed Ronald Blake, 4-H director for Central Jamaica.
Mr. Fulton said the 4-H movement has fostered the development of some 65,000 clubbites across Jamaica in 650 schools and 25 church and community clubs. He noted that through the work of some 7,000 volunteers, 4,000 of whom were teachers, the numbers have continued to improve.
State Minister of Transport and Works, Dr. Fenton Ferguson, who was the guest speaker at the function, lauded the growth of the movement over the last 65 years.
He noted that membership had grown from 18,000 in 2000 to about 65,000 in 2005 and during the same period, budgetary support to the organization increased from $18 million to between $82 million and $87 million.
Minister Ferguson also commended the movement for being able to attract support outside of government, mentioning a $10 million contribution from the Council for Voluntary Social Services to assist with hurricane repairs to centres; another $10 million from the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica, while the Japanese government has contributed approximately $3 million worth of equipment, including the tractors being used in the training programme.
In his remarks, Chairman of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, Senator Norman Grant, said that the vision for the movement was to be the leading organization for skills development by the year 2010.
He challenged the graduates to demonstrate, through their work, that the 4-H movement was focused on the development of young people, the harnessing young talents and that agriculture was still the bedrock of Jamaica’s economic development.
The 12 -week home economics course is offered to persons 18 years and older and incorporates training in floral arrangement and food preparation, small business management, loan access, and fire safety in the kitchen. It costs about $4,500 per person and classes are held in the evenings and on weekends. There is a residential option for out of town participants.
The tractor operation and maintenance programme is aimed at improving the supply of technologically advanced tractor operators in the island and to encourage “a new breed of farming in order to allow Jamaica to compete with the rest of the world, where agricultural productivity is being driven by mechanization and technological transfer”.
The programme costs approximately $9,000 and is being subsidized by the 4-H movement at about $4,000 per person.
The 12-week programme provides instruction in introductory mechanical servicing, driving and machine maintenance, etiquette, socially accepted norms, dress codes for business meetings and interviews, as well as civics. It also has a residential option. Successful participants are able to acquire driver’s licences at the end of the course.
Both training programmes are certified by the National Council on Technical Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET).