- For 35 days between October and early December, Clayon Elliot travelled 149 kilometres from his home in York Town, Clarendon, to attend classes in event production at the Grandiosa Hotel in Montego Bay, St. James.
- It was a three-and-a-half-hour commute to and from Montego Bay each day for a total of seven hours.
- Mr. Elliot tells JIS News that he would begin his journey at about 5:00 a.m. every morning to ensure that he reached classes on time.
For 35 days between October and early December, Clayon Elliot travelled 149 kilometres from his home in York Town, Clarendon, to attend classes in event production at the Grandiosa Hotel in Montego Bay, St. James.
It was a three-and-a-half-hour commute to and from Montego Bay each day for a total of seven hours.
Mr. Elliot tells JIS News that he would begin his journey at about 5:00 a.m. every morning to ensure that he reached classes on time.
“I hardly had time to study. I hardly had time to do my notes. I had to do it on the bus, so the best thing I did was try to reach at least half an hour before class started and try to get prepared,” he says.
While the journey was long and tiring, and many would have given up, the 27-year-old says he was determined to complete the skills training programme and get the certification he needed to get a better job.
“I needed a better skill, I needed to be certified. I needed to go out into the world where I can showcase myself,” he says.
On December 16, Mr. Elliot was among 32 persons to graduate from the Event Production Skills Training Programme organised by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) in partnership with M-Academy, which is the training institute of the Main Event Entertainment Group.
He was named one of two top male performers for the programme and won the award for most outstanding student in the area of lighting. He also received a certificate for best attendance.
Mr. Elliot says he is grateful for the experience and is excited to take advantage of the opportunities that the training and certification will bring.
“I am really grateful to be named top male for the programme because I tried to do my best. I hope to get a better job, so I can be better financially and uplift myself,” he says.
Social Services Manager at JSIF, Gresford Bennett, hails Mr. Elliot as a shining example for young people across the island.
“This is the motivation that we talk about. For a young man to hear that there is an opportunity in Montego Bay and for that person to travel from York Town in Clarendon every single day to come to Montego Bay to accept this opportunity, that’s the kind of spirit that will move the country forward,” he says.
In the meantime, Clevaughn Lee from Granville, St. James, who shared the top male performer award with Mr. Elliot, says he is grateful for the training programme.
The 44-year-old father of five, who was the oldest course participant, tells JIS News that he was determined to make use of the opportunity in order to improve the economic status of his family.
“It was a good opportunity that I thought I should take advantage of, where I could learn another skill that I could use. It’s in demand right now and event production is one of the highest-paying jobs you could find right now,” he says.
Mr. Lee received individual awards for best performance in staging and audio as well as most punctual.
“It was a good experience for me. I am thankful for the experience that I could learn to do something that would benefit me and my family, and my community,” he adds.
The Event Production Skills Training Programme was undertaken through $21 million in funding from JSIF under its Alternative Livelihood Skills Development Programme (ALSDP).
Some 106 young people across the island have now benefited from the training since its introduction in April.
JSIF has pumped more than $300 million into ALSDP, which targets close to 6,000 youth in 18 communities across seven parishes, providing training in event production, film, and digital animation, among other areas.
They are drawn from St. Ann, Clarendon, St. James, Westmoreland, Kingston and St. Andrew, and St. Catherine.
The initiative is a component of the World Bank-funded Integrated Community Development Project (ICDP), which runs from 2014 to 2020.