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  • The HEART Trust/National Training Agency (NTA) will commence a full roll-out of its National Unattached Youth Programme (NUYP), in July.
  • The programme, which was approved for implementation by HEART’s Board in 2014, is set for fiscal years 2015/16 and 2016/17, at a projected cost of $1.5 billion per annum.
  • It will target young people, aged 17 to 30, for skills training and certification, where these have not been attained, particularly at the secondary level.

The HEART Trust/National Training Agency (NTA) will commence a full roll-out of its National Unattached Youth Programme (NUYP), in July.

The programme, which was approved for implementation by HEART’s Board in 2014, is set for fiscal years 2015/16 and 2016/17, at a projected cost of $1.5 billion per annum.

It will target young people, aged 17 to 30, for skills training and certification, where these have not been attained, particularly at the secondary level; and job placement, either through direct recruitment or apprenticeship for persons who have already acquired qualifications, but encounter challenges securing employment.

The programme’s modalities, to be delivered between Mondays and Thursdays at designated locations in the various communities, will primarily engage participants in: skills training; personal development; and literacy and numeracy upgrading, where necessary.  Participants will also receive a weekly stipend of $2,000.

Approximately 15,000 persons from 63 constituencies are being targeted for participation in each of the two years. This will see a minimum of 100 persons being selected by Members of Parliament and Councillors from each constituency.

The roll-out in July, involving some 24 constituencies, will represent the programme’s second phase, following the pilot currently underway with just over 200 participants, undertaken in Western St. Andrew and North East Manchester.

Selections in the remaining constituencies should be completed in time for the participants to commence programme engagements in January 2016.

The programme is consistent with the Government’s Job Creation and Economic Growth strategic priority, focusing on integrating youth into national development; and Human Capital Development, focusing on education.

Members of Parliament and Councillors from several of the constituencies shortlisted under phase two, attended a HEART briefing session at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, on Thursday (April 23). It was addressed by Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites.

Also attending were representatives of several government departments, agencies, and programmes, which are partnering with HEART to implement the NUYP. These include: the Social Development Commission (SDC); National Youth Service (NYS); Community Renewal Programme (CRP); Unite for Change; and Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP).

In his address, Rev. Thwaites said the NUYP is being undertaken, pursuant to directives from Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, that the Ministry initiates a programme tailored to effectively address the needs of Jamaica’s significant number of unattached youth.

“The estimate of the number of young people who leave school with little or no qualifications and who have not found employment, varies between 130,000 and 150,000 annually. The proneness to engage in anti-social behaviour, whether at the personal level of unstructured family (settings) or of actual criminal behaviour, is more prevalent among these (persons),” the Minister noted.

Rev. Thwaites underscored the need to “make every effort” to curtail the “continuing haemorrhaging” of unskilled persons, particularly from secondary schools, citing HEART as pivotal to this objective.

“The only agency that can lead this process, because of its unique resource base, is the HEART Trust/NTA. But, it has to do so in conjunction in with all of the other agencies that are designed to provide social upliftment in the society,” he agued.

Rev. Thwaites said the decision to incorporate the input of MPs and councillors results from the determination that the constituency is the logical environment, “for organizing a programme for re-generating unattached youth and offering them skills and opportunities.”

He said the NUYP is an “opportunity” for the trainees that will require “considerable personal responsibility,” on their part, to take advantage of its provisions to advance themselves and, by extension, their families.

Meanwhile, HEART’s Chairman, Dr. Moses Peart, said the NUYP is consistent with the agency’s mandate to develop training initiatives, which prepare trainees for employment.

“We see NUYP’s implementation as a golden opportunity for us to partner with other stakeholders to address the target group (which) really needs our attention, because they are (currently) under-served, in terms of certain opportunities,” he noted.

For his part, HEART Trust Executive Director, Dr. Wayne Wesley, said based on the mandate received from the Education Ministry and the agency’s Board, and out of their own recognition, the management deems it important to treat with the target cohort in a manner which will determine “what opportunities we are making available for them, to make good on their lives, going forward.”

An agency of the Ministry of Education, HEART Trust/NTA is a key driver of Jamaica’s development, which focuses primarily on stimulating economic growth and job creation. This is done through the provision of a variety of training options aimed at creating a highly skilled, productive, and competitive workforce.