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As part of its continued efforts in exercising its corporate social responsibility, the nation’s leading water provider the National Water Commission (NWC), has to date employed over 300 at risk youth to gather vital information through its Customer Census Mapping Project.

By definition, at risk youth are persons who due to a range of factors are deemed less likely to transition successfully into adulthood, achieve economic independence or contribute meaningfully to society. It is a definition that Naaman Parker, one of the youngsters employed through the project, is all too familiar with. “I was told a lot of things in my life that I would never achieve but this project has offered me a second chance and has been a saving grace for me” he explains. As a result of employment through the project, Naaman has been able to complete the building of his own house and investing in his farm.

Staff for the project are mainly recruited through the government’s Housing Opportunity Production and Employment (HOPE) programme where they are trained in life skills, citizenship, work ethics, discipline, volunteerism and entrepreneurship skills. Once with the NWC, they are further trained in crucial areas such as customer service, Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping, safety guidelines and meter handling.

Coordinator for the NWC’s Customer Census Mapping Project Carole Fisher, beams as she shares the changes she has witnessed in the young employees. “I am always filled with a sense of pride when I see the positive effects on them. Some came here without any sense of direction, very vulnerable … but then I witness the significant transformation in them while on the project and I can say that it is more than just a job to them. Their minds are open to greater possibilities” says Fisher. She adds “I am extremely pleased that my company- the NWC- continues to step up to the plate to partner with the government to offer job opportunities to these deserving youth”.

Ms Fisher’s sentiment is shared by Director of the programme for Learning, Earning and Giving back to country through Service and Savings (LEGS) within the Ministry of Education and Youth, Olivia McFarlane. “We are very appreciative of the NWC. They have been on board since the inception of the programme, offering the youth invaluable training that prepares them for the future and for transitioning into permanent employment” declares Ms McFarlane.

She further states “the skill training that they receive especially in the area of GIS mapping puts them a notch above the rest as we see more and more traditional jobs becoming obsolete. I trust that the NWC will continue giving these youth hope”.

The NWC will continue to offer employment opportunities to at risk youth with at least 300 to 350 more to be recruited to work on the Customer Census Mapping project as it progresses across the island.

The utility company’s Customer Census Mapping Project involves a door-to-door survey of existing and potential NWC customers and mapping them using Global Positioning System (GPS) devices so that the NWC can use this digital information in its continuous service improvement efforts. The project will ultimately result in better water and wastewater service delivery, improved responsiveness by the NWC to customer complaints and better customer service.

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