Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, says the government will be taking a more integrated approach to youth development in an effort to maximise results and effectively utilise resources.
This will involve pooling the resources of agencies and organisations with similar targets in order to ensure greater efficiency and reduce costs. “What we have to realise is that 80 per cent of most of the budgets that come in for youth programmes are spent on staff, and so there’s very little to actually implement programmes. This is something that we are trying to deal with in terms of not splitting the resources,” she said.
The Minister was responding to the concerns of youth leaders during a roundtable discussion facilitated by the United States Embassy on Friday (April 20) at its Old Hope Road offices in Kingston.
She informed that one such approach the Ministry will be taking is to integrate the Possibility Programme into the National Youth Service (NYS) “in a more structured way” in an effort to take advantage of the NYS curricula and programmes.
As it relates to training and employment opportunities, Miss Hanna informed that the Ministry has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Youth Upliftment Through Employment (YUTE) programme operated by the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ), which will see the training of more than 2,700 young people. She said that further details on the programme will be released soon.
A group of some 25 young people from various communities throughout Kingston and St. Andrew and St. Catherine participated in the roundtable discussion, held in observance of Global Youth Service Day, which is an annual campaign that celebrates and mobilises youths across the world, who want to improve their communities through service and service-learning.
The youths voiced their concerns to Minister Hanna, United States Ambassador to Jamaica, Her Excellency Pamela Bridgewater, Mission Director, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Denise Herbol and Executive Director, National Council for Youth Development, Roberta Ellis.
The discussion, facilitated by President of the National Youth Council, Ryan Small and Youth Ambassador, Paul McFarlane focused on the work of the youth in their communities; their achievements, and the challenges they face; and policy issues related to marginalised youth, unemployment, and youth inclusion in planning.
Some of the suggestions, which arose included: additional funding for young entrepreneurs; further incentives for employers willing to employ members of the disabled community; mentorship programmes with students helping other students to learn; parenting workshops; and more community volunteerism among young people; more programmes focusing on positive values and moral in young people; and the integration of youth programmes in order to maximise results and save money.
Established in 1988, Global Youth Service Day is the largest and longest running service event in the world, and the only day of service dedicated to children and youth. GYSD is celebrated each year in over 100 countries.
By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker, JIS Reporter