JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Young people with disabilities across five parishes are to receive employment opportunities as well as career and personal development training under an empowerment programme being undertaken by the National Youth Service (NYS).
  • To be launched in November in Kingston and St. Andrew, the intervention follows a successful pilot last year, which reached 35 persons.
  • The programme will be rolled out in December in Clarendon, Catherine, St. James and Westmoreland to benefit persons with various disabilities ages 17 to 24 years.

Young people with disabilities across five parishes are to receive employment opportunities as well as career and personal development training under an empowerment programme being undertaken by the National Youth Service (NYS).

To be launched in November in Kingston and St. Andrew, the intervention follows a successful pilot last year, which reached 35 persons.

The programme will be rolled out in December in Clarendon, Catherine, St. James and Westmoreland to benefit persons with various disabilities ages 17 to 24 years.

Executive Director, NYS, Melvin Smith, provided details on the programme on Wednesday, October 15, while addressing a Statistics Symposium at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge, University of the West Indies, St. Andrew.

Mr. Smith informed that the first phase of the programme will include a three-week camp, where participants will be exposed to life and survival skills, character development, volunteerism, cultural awareness and career planning, among other things.

He noted that thereafter, job coaches will be engaged to work with the youth as well as the participating companies, to ensure that there is an understanding between the requirements of the employers and the needs of persons with disabilities.

This will be followed by a three-month supported work experience “where the persons with disabilities are not left on their own to navigate through the world of work, but they will have a coach to guide them through their experience,” Mr. Smith informed.

He told JIS News that the NYS will reach out to the youth from the disabled community, through stakeholder agencies such as the Jamaica Society for the Blind, the Jamaica Association for the Deaf, among others.

Mr. Smith noted that the NYS is working to finalize the design of the programme to ensure it best suits the needs of the disabled community.

“We also have worked closely with the Jamaica Association on Intellectual Disabilities and we got quite of a lot of information and insights from them in terms of the kinds of modalities, and training and development that work for youth,” he informed.

Noting that the NYS sets aside up to 10 per cent of placement in programmes for persons from the disabled community, Mr. Smith lamented that as a society, “we are not nearly as inclusive as we should be.”  He said that businesses do not often see the abilities of the disabled community, and instead, focus on their inabilities or their disabilities.

“We believe that we should focus therefore on the abilities of the persons with disabilities because, by and large, they have significantly more abilities than the one or two disabilities that may plague them, and we are committed to and we challenge civil society, the entire society, to be more inclusive of diversity and of persons with disabilities,” he urged.

While specifically catering to the 17 to 24 age group, consideration will also be given under the programme, to those falling outside of this grouping.

The symposium entitled: ‘Youths, ages 15 to 24 – A Situational Analysis’, was staged by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) as part of activities to commemorate Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Statistics Day.

The forum provided a profile of youth in the 15 to 24 age group in relation to employment, education, fertility and crime.