• Feature
    Beneficiary of the HOPE Programme in 2018, Devon Thompson, sorting files.
    Photo: Yhomo Hutchinson

    Story Highlights

    • The Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) Programme has been lauded by beneficiary, Devon Thompson, who describes the programme as excellent for providing underprivileged Jamaican youth with a second chance at success.
    • Devon ended his HOPE Programme internship at the Jamaica Mortgage Bank (JMB) last year and describes the experience as life-changing.
    • “I think the HOPE Programme is a good move by the Government because it’s a second chance for youth out there who have dropped out of school early, either through pregnancy or violence. They get the chance to learn a skill to better themselves in the society,” he tells JIS News.

    The Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) Programme has been lauded by beneficiary, Devon Thompson, who describes the programme as excellent for providing underprivileged Jamaican youth with a second chance at success.

    Devon ended his HOPE Programme internship at the Jamaica Mortgage Bank (JMB) last year and describes the experience as life-changing.

    “I think the HOPE Programme is a good move by the Government because it’s a second chance for youth out there who have dropped out of school early, either through pregnancy or violence. They get the chance to learn a skill to better themselves in the society,” he tells JIS News.

    The HOPE Programme is a training and apprenticeship project that provides an avenue for the development of fully rounded, unattached youth between 18 and 24 years old. The programme was announced by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, during his 2017/18 Budget Debate presentation.

    Devon shares with JIS News that while being enrolled in the programme, he got first-hand experience of the high level of professionalism that goes into the operations of government agencies.

    “While serving my internship, I learned and came to appreciate that professionalism should be reflected in all aspects of the workplace, from dress code to proper usage of grammar, especially when interacting with the employees and customers. I also learned how to properly document, store and dispose of files and how to create a good résumé and job application letter,” he says.

    Devon points out that he learned about the HOPE programme through a text message from a friend who encouraged him to apply.

    “I was particularly interested in the programme because it was offering a free course in Documentation, and I thought it would be beneficial in developing my professional skill set,” he explains.

    Under the HOPE programme, participants are required to participate in mandatory core training, inclusive of life skills, good citizenship, work ethics, discipline, volunteerism and entrepreneurship skills. After that, they will participate in specific skills training and serve as an apprentice, where they will be allowed to work in that skill area for a stipend with a savings component.

    “Through participating in the programme, I was able to develop better interpersonal and problem-solving skills, self-reliance, and I now have higher self-esteem,” Devon says.

    The 22-year-old says that after completing the programme, his hope is to pursue a degree in sales and marketing at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus, starting September 2019.

    “My biggest motivation is my mom and brother. They are my biggest source of inspiration and my strongest supporters as well. When I see my mom working so hard to keep me and my smaller brother happy through the death of our father, it gives me the drive as the eldest to push for success, so I can help to make life more comfortable for all of us,” Devon says.

    He is encouraging young unattached persons to apply for the HOPE Programme and other government youth-development programmes.

    “You can use these programmes as a stepping stone to your career path and reach where you want to go in life. You not only learn a skill but you are groomed for the working world, no matter what area of work you apply for. The instructors even help you with interview tips and conduct practice interviews to better help you,” Devon highlights.

    The Edwin Allen High School past student says he wishes more youth who are currently unemployed, due to lack of training, would “rise up and take charge of their lives”.

    “If you sit down and don’t do something with your life, no one will help you. Take it from me, I have been through a lot of things in the past, but I didn’t let my past define my future,” Devon says.

    He says he is grateful for the HOPE Programme helping him to reach one step closer to his goals.

    “Yes, life may be hard and tough, but I’d like to encourage persons to not give up,” Devon tells JIS News.