Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, has reiterated the Government’s strong commitment to addressing the problems affecting the youth cohort.
She said the focus must be on creating economic opportunities for young people; fashioning lasting solutions to the social phenomena that affect them; ensuring the protection of children and at-risk youth; and to culturally reverse the mindset that 'nutten nah gwaan'.
"As a government, we are determined to help young Jamaicans fashion the vision and develop the conviction to chart a course for their own personal empowerment," she stated on September 17 at a youth forum hosted by the United Theological College (UTC) of the West Indies at its Papine campus in St. Andrew.
Ms. Hanna stated that the recently held Digital Jam 2.0, through which young people were able to access opportunities in the virtual economy, was an important step in providing economic empowerment, noting that other initiatives will be pursued.
These include: identifying employment prospects in information communication technology (ICT); establishing training and micro work centres in the virtual economy; and creating incubating centres and promoting entrepreneurship.
Meanwhile, Minister Hanna stated that the review of the National Youth Policy, currently underway, will be completed shortly.
The policy will be informed by, among other things, the results of a qualitative survey on the situation of youth in Jamaica, undertaken earlier this year.
"I must have empirical data on the problems and opportunities and resources that exist in order to lead an effective, sustained and sustainable effort to address the challenges," she pointed out.
The Youth and Culture Minister said that the youth forum, held under the theme: ‘Mek We Set Di Ting,’ was important as it “presents an opportunity to hear firsthand and feel what some of our young people, particularly at-risk young people are thinking about their presence in this society and (how) they feel they can make a difference."
She lauded the organisers for including the input of all stakeholders “in the search for solutions to the challenges that confront the nation.”
"I believe that this ability for constructive engagement, debate and action is one of the absolute benefits of our preferred democratic system of political, social and economic organisation of our society," Ms. Hanna added.
The forum involved youth groups and representatives from government, opposition, church, academia, the business community, civil society, among others.