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Starting this year, the HEART/NSTA Trust will increase its collaboration with the Jamaica Defence Force/Jamaica National Service Corps (JDF/JNSC) to recruit an additional 2,000 youth to the programme yearly.
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, made the disclosure during his contribution to the 2023/24 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives recently.
“It is now time to scale up this programme in a significant way as one of our strategies to reintegrate our unattached youth into the workforce and divert them from joining gangs,” he pointed out.
“This is not only a security imperative; it is also an economic imperative as the country approaches full employment. We must ensure that our out-of-school population is directed into the workforce with work-ready knowledge, skills, and attitude,” he added.
A total of 5,242 Jamaican youth have been trained through the programme, which was implemented in 2017 as an intervention programme targeted at unattached youngsters aged 18 to 23.
The Prime Minister said that 3,447 of those trained have transitioned into the regular branches of service of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF).
He noted that the programme remains one of the most critical post-school efforts for youth engagement.
He said that after six years of operation of the JNSC, the model has created a pool of skilled and trainable workers in the fields of security, logistics, engineering, vocational trades, and information technology.
“Graduates of the JNSC programme receive certification, which gives them a competitive advantage in the labour market. JNSC graduates have transitioned into the JCF recruitment programme, and other public-sector and private-sector entities,” he pointed out.
He informed that in 2022, a total of 491 JNSC participants successfully completed their one-year training and entered the regular JDF.
He noted that there are 1,066 JNSC recruits in varying stages of training in the programme.