KINGSTON — Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon Olivia Grange, says that the adoption of a culture of entrepreneurship is critical to developing sustainable livelihoods for Jamaica's youths.
“We must unearth their creative talents and channel these into viable economic and entrepreneurial opportunities,” the Minister stated.
She was speaking at the Partnering for Youth Employment seminar, at the Advantage General Lounge in New Kingston, on Tuesday June 14.
The seminar, which was also attended by Commonwealth Secretary General, His Excellency Kamalesh Sharma, gave an opportunity to youths and youth-serving organisations to share and discuss the challenges, opportunities, and successes in youth employment and entrepreneurship in Jamaica. It also sought to discuss how the Commonwealth can assist in this area.
Miss Grange also noted that, in Jamaica, early entrepreneurial activities are dominated by individuals between the ages of 24 and 34, with Jamaica having the third highest incidents of female entrepreneurship activity in the world.
“This indicates the need to ensure that programmes being implemented are gender sensitive,” she stated.
The Minister also explained that the work of the Youth Division of her Ministry is guided by the 2004 National Youth Policy, which highlights employment and entrepreneurship, as a key focal point for sustainable development.
She said that the strategic objectives identified in the policy for employment and entrepreneurship, are to increase the employability of youth, increase the number of employment opportunities and foster an environment conducive to the creation of opportunities for self-employment.
Miss Grange stated that, in an effort to expand its youth entrepreneurship agenda, the Ministry has partnered with the Jamaica Youth Business Trust in support of youth businesses.
“In addition, the Ministry has commenced the development of a youth entrepreneurship strategy, which seeks to strengthen the role of youths in national economic development, by unearthing and focusing their skills and abilities into areas that promote sustainable enterprises,” she stated.
Miss Grange said a multisectoral approach has been adopted, as the strategy for building sustainable partnerships. She said that approach was necessary to address youth employment, as it would help to eliminate duplication and foster great efficiency.
She added that the development of a youth mainstreaming strategy will enhance this area of focus, and provide a more coordinated approach to engaging youth organisations in addressing youth employment.
In the meantime, Mr. Sharma commended the Minister on the various youth organisations, programmes and policies, geared towards developing opportunities for youth employment and entrepreneurship.
He also noted that the Commonwealth is primarily in the business of “helping those who help themselves, wherever we go in any way in which we can”. He said the grouping was also interested in developing products that cut across individual countries, and provide available resources for all, at the same time.
The session was also attended by youths from various schools and organisations, including Youth Upliftment through Employment (YUTE), Bars to Go by Diageo and the National Youth Service (NYS). The youths also interacted with the Minister and the Secretary General, highlighting their various employment concerns, difficulties, challenges and successes.
Administrative Assistant, Stacey-Ann Riley, told the forum that she was grateful for the training opportunities available under the NYS. The Jonathan Grant High School graduate said, through the programme, she received the opportunity to work as a teaching assistant at the Spanish Town Primary school for six months.
“While there I learned how to be more assertive. How to use my initiative to teach, because I didn’t know I had it in me. It also helped me to build my character and my self-esteem and to think more about my future,” she said.
After completing the six-month tenure at the NYS, she was able to land a job as an Administrative Assistant to the Programmes Director and Executive Director of the NYS.
By ATHALIAH REYNOLDS, JIS Reporter