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KINGSTON — The youth development programme at the Kingston Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) has been further advanced with the addition of a barbering skills training project.

The project, estimated to cost $2 million, will accommodate over 120 boys and is being sponsored by the Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League (JCCUL). Initially, it will last for two years.

Speaking at the launching ceremony at the institution’s premises on Hope Road in Kingston, on September 14, Education Minister, Hon. Andrew Holness, argued that skills’ training is a critical component to the advancement of the workforce, and lamented that, “too often, we have sought to devalue skills and make only academic pursuits valuable in the marketplace.”

He said that one of the problems that young people face is that they cannot identify themselves, because they lack a skill that identifies them. “What we are trying to do with you young fellows today, is to give you a skill that you can stand up and identify yourself to your peers, your country (and say) ‘I am John Brown and I am a barber’,” the Minister  told  the young men.

“As simple as barbering may seem, it is a very complex skill to develop. It is something that you have to train to do, in order to do it properly. It is something that you will have to love to do,” he added.

Mr. Holness encouraged the participants in the programme to be the best that they can be,  and lauded the work that the YMCA has been doing over the years.        

“The YMCA is a very important partner of the Ministry of Education. We depend on institutions like the YMCA to capture those youngsters in a programme that is meaningful, that at the end of their stay in that programme, they will get certified,” he said.

Corporate Communications Manager, Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League (JCCUL), Claudette Christie, said the project seeks to enhance the capacity of the Kingston YMCA to empower its students through skills training to become marketable and to become entrepreneurs.

For her part, Executive Director, Kingston YMCA, Sarah Newland Martin, said the programme seeks to ensure that all the participants will one day become entrepreneurs.

“At the end of the programme, it is intended to give (each) graduate a kit, so that they can start their own business,” she said.

The participants in  the programme include 47 young men who are attached to the Citizen Security and Justice Project (CSJP) evening programmes as well as students from the youth development programmes of the Kingston YMCA.

Under the project, the JCCUL has refurbished an unused building that now houses the barber shop and will provide the material for the training of the boys as well as pay instructors. At the end of each six-month advanced level course, successful trainees will be certified by HEART Trust/NTA. They  can then seek employment or start their own small business.

The main features of the YMCA have been basic education, mental, physical and spiritual development, training in skills to assist the young people to qualify for employment and the provision of an opportunity to become good citizens.

Some of its goals are: providing training in remedial skills to young boys and girls who are dropouts and not attending any other educational institution on a full time basis for two years; providing services to the community by offering work experience and job enrichment to students; and developing students’ self-esteem to become useful and valuable citizens of their communities.

                                                           

By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter