Gov’t Considers Mandatory Youth Service Programme


A committee headed by Dr. Donald Rhodd, State Minister with responsibility for Youth Development in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture, is currently assessing the need for the establishment of a mandatory service programme for unattached youngsters.
Speaking at a recent JIS Think Tank on youth issues, Executive Director of the National Youth Service (NYS), Rev. Adinhair Jones, explained that the move was in response to increased calls from private and public sector officials for the implementation of such a programme that could assist in solving some of the major issues affecting youth.
“Some of our major stakeholders really believe that a mandatory programme is necessary if we are going to realign our young people, who are leaving the secondary system and are not equipped to move on in a structured way,” he said.
“We have had strong support from people working on the ground, such as Members of Parliament, who are actually coming forward to say this is something that would make a difference at the constituency level,” he added.
The major components of the programme would include a significant re-socialization of youth as it relates to instilling a sense of discipline, work ethic and dignity in service, as well as, “a massive work attachment.”
“We are aiming to reverse some of the major anti-social forces and trends that affect youth in the society, and to engage productively, the energies of our young people, so that they can contribute to nation building and economic development while benefiting from a structured process for their own development,” Rev. Jones explained.
According to Rev. Jones, the discussions are at the initial stages surrounding what the programme should entail, the developmental process, as well as timelines for implementation.
The Committee comprises representatives from the National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD), the HEART Trust/NTA, the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), NYS, Cabinet Office, Churches, Members of Parliament, as well as other stakeholders.
The formation of major public/private sector partnerships will be critical to the establishment of the programme, as it will involve large amounts of expenditure.
One option, Rev, Jones said, would be to expand the NYS programme from its current 1,400 youth annually to 10,000. At today’s cost, this would move expenditure from $140 million to over $700 million.
There is also the alternative of operating a non-residential training programme to cover a larger number of school leavers. Assuming a one-year training period of 40,000 participants and a two-week work engagement, the cost would be over $4 billion, he informed further.
The committee is looking forward to a substantive debate on the matter to take place in the House of Parliament at a later date.
The NYS is mandated to carry out the re-socialization of the youth towards positive attitudes and values as it relates to the work place, community, nation building and developing a sense of self, as well as providing opportunities and orientation for their entrance into the labour force.

JIS Social