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Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security, Dr. Donald Rhodd is calling for the short term expansion of the National Youth Service (NYS) to accommodate 20,000 young people, up from 5,000 per annum.
Speaking at the NYS Evening of Celebration, which was held at the Jamaica Pegasus, yesterday (November 29), Dr. Rhodd noted that the expansion of the programme would provide the opportunity for more young people to get involved in voluntary service, gain work experience, improve their discipline and develop their social skills.
“Whilst I appreciate all too well the realities of resource constraints, it is my view that the NYS programme should be expanded in the medium term to treat with the 160,000 unattached youth (in Jamaica). I respectfully submit that in the short term, resources must be found to allow for the intake of 20,000 youngsters per annum,” he stressed.
Noting the impact which the NYS has on young people and by extension, national development, Dr. Rhodd said that it was critical that the organization be afforded the requisite resources that are required to reach as many young people as possible in the short term, as it would prove to be more beneficial to the country in the long run, “as the economic and social cost of not doing so, far exceeds taking the requisite steps”.
“Every $100,000 spent on one participant in the NYS represents a saving of $400,000 to the public purse,” he noted.
Dr. Rhodd noted, however, that the expansion of the programme would not be feasible without the direct involvement of other organizations, especially the private sector.
He took the opportunity to not only thank those organizations that have assisted the NYS over the years, but also encouraged others to get involved in youth development, by facilitating training or funding established programmes.
“The responsibility of identifying the resources to expand the NYS doesn’t rest solely with the Government, but with the private sector, non-governmental organizations, faith based organizations, as well as community based organizations. There can be no doubt that the NYS provides a useful vehicle for re-socialization of our young people,” he asserted.
The NYS was founded in 1973 by the Government of Jamaica to provide opportunities in relation to career development for young people aged 17 to 24. The programme was discontinued in 1983, but was re-introduced in 1995 amidst growing concerns of increasing incidents of crime and violence, anti-social behaviour and rising levels of youth unemployment.
Now a statutory body, the organisation aims to reduce the number of unattached and marginalized young people, reduce the likelihood of more young people getting involved in crime and violence, reduce the number of unemployed young persons and increase their skills level to ensure their competitiveness in the labour market.
The organization offers a number of programmes to young people. These include the NYS Corps Programme, the National Summer Employment Programme, the Private Sector Partner Initiative, the Success Programme, the Gender Sensitization Media Programme, the NYS Peace Facilitators Programme, the Jamaica-Canada Exchange Programme and the Jamaica Values and Attitudes Project for Tertiary Students.