Some 416 at risk youth between the ages of 17 and 25 will benefit from at two-year programme focusing on providing technical, vocational, and life skills, which will enable them to become employed, or to start their own enterprises.
The Caribbean Youth Empowerment Programme (CYEP) is being implemented by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Youth Foundation, through the Peoples’ Action for Community Transformation (PACT).
The US$1.5 million programme, which is also being implemented in Antigua and Barbuda, and Grenada, was launched in Jamaica yesterday (Oct. 22) at the Knutsford Court Hotel.
In giving an overview, PACT Project Director, Cecile Bernard told the gathering that, “the goal of the project is to increase access of disadvantaged young persons to quality training and job placement programmes, which will help them to acquire the marketable skills needed to acquire decent jobs.”
She said the programme targets persons, who have been educated to grade eight or higher, and who reside in deep rural communities, as well as in the inner-cities of Kingston.
PACT is working with four non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in reaching such youth. These are: Church Action Negril in Westmoreland; Children First in Spanish Town, St. Catherine; Western Society for the Upliftment of Children in Montego Bay, St. James; and St. Patrick’s Foundation in the inner-cities of Kingston and St. Andrew.
Ms. Bernard explained that the training will be undertaken in two cycles, with Children First, in one cycle, to train 60 young persons in different skill areas. Church Action will train 25 persons; the St. Patrick’s Foundation, 78 persons; and the Western Society, 45 persons.
The programme involves entrepreneurial training, including business operations, and job readiness. Trainees will have the opportunity to make a selection from a number of vocational disciplines, including cosmetology and barbering; housekeeping and customer service; lifeguard services; photography and videography; food preparation; electrical installation; and business administration.
Director of Communications in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, Oliver Watt (left), greets Director of Programme Development and Management at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Sean Osner at yesterday’s (Oct. 22) launch of the Caribbean Youth Empowerment Programme (CYEP) at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston. The programme, which targets at risk youth, is being implemented by the USAID and the International Youth Foundation, through the Peoples’ Action for Community Transformation (PACT).
There is a compulsory portion, which focuses on self-esteem building; remedial education; life skills; computer literacy; reproductive health and drug abuse.
Participants are expected to engage in a mandatory three-week internship and on successful completion they will be certified by the HEART Trust/NTA.
A database of 300 potential employers will be created, and job fairs will be organised and held across a number of regions in the island, through which trainees are expected to be placed in jobs. “We expect synergies from the internship programme so that after the training and the certification, we expect that there are some persons, who will get a job in the place where they had done their internship, or recommendation from that employer,” Ms. Bernard stated.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Olivia Grange, in an address read by Director of Communications, Oliver Watt welcomed the initiative, while lauding the work of USAID and PACT over the years in empowering Jamaica’s youth.
She further highlighted the work being done by the Ministry, through the National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD), including the development and operation of Youth Information Centres (YICs) across the island.
“The feedback I have been receiving from young people, who use them, is that they are very comfortable there. They can learn and engage on issues that concern them, such as their future, jobs, personal advancement, and parenting,” she said.
Director of Programme Development and Management at the USAID, Sean Osner, in noting the importance of the initiative, cited a 2008 World Bank report, which stated that at risk youth comprises half of the total population between the ages of 12 and 24 in the Latin American and Caribbean region.
“Numerous studies show that at risk youth have a high probability of poverty, crime, and anti-social behavior, including premature parenthood and association with criminal networks, therefore, interventions designed with and for young people have become a matter of urgency in Jamaica,” he stated.
He also commended PACT for what he said was the excellent work it had done over the years to help to address the challenges young people face. “The work of PACT and similar organisations will give youth, who have been marginalized and who have missed opportunities for solid education, a second chance to fulfill their potential,” he said.