- 4,000 students between 17 and 24 years of age will be engaged in the NYS programme this summer
- NYS has designed a pilot programme called ‘Enrichment Camps’
The National Youth Service (NYS) summer employment programme is being rebranded, as part of a major thrust by the NYS to reach and empower more young people with its development programmes.
Executive Director of the NYS, Melvin Smith, told JIS News that the programme, which seeks to engender professional work and ethical standards in the youth, has been undergoing changes and will now be referred to as the ‘National Youth Service Summer Programme’.
He said the word employment has been removed from the title, because it implied that a reward would be given that is commensurate with the work done.
“Certainly, we expect that the work that the participants do will be significantly beyond the stipend we pay,” he said, adding that the stipend is based on the agency’s budget and ability to pay.
“The real value to the participants is not the cash they receive, it is really the knowledge they gain and the employability skills that they have and the networks they would have developed during that period,” Mr. Smith emphasised.
Approximately 4,000 secondary and tertiary students between 17 and 24 years of age will be engaged in the NYS programme this summer. The students recently participated in a two-day orientation session to prepare them for placements at business organisations for a three-week internship, either in July or August.
Mr. Smith pointed out that at the end of their internships, the students will be empowered, have more knowledge about career options and the requirements of particular businesses or sectors.
“They would have developed skills in doing clerical chores or team working or problem solving. The top performers would likely, as has happened before, be called back for other short term projects or potential openings if and when they occur,” he continued, adding that some may decide to go back to, or finish school.
For those persons who did not get into the summer programme, Mr. Smith said the NYS has designed a pilot programme called ‘Enrichment Camps’ that will begin during the last week of August.
“We are targeting youth who applied to the summer programme, but were unsuccessful. This is a pilot…to give the youth an opportunity, and to say ‘here is something else’,” he said, noting that the two-week camps will be held in three parishes, St. Catherine, St. James and Kingston, and will target between 40 and 60 persons for each camp.
“We are looking at character building, career development skills, and an appreciation of Jamaica’s culture to increase their cultural awareness and of course, to foster volunteerism, which are some of the tenets of the National Youth Service that we have strayed away from over the years,” he said.
“Based on how successful that pilot runs, we will see how we do it as a full blown programme over the rest of the fiscal year and into the next year,” Mr. Smith said, while pointing out that the camps could be held throughout the year, based on the findings of the pilot study.