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Story Highlights

  • Thirty residents of the Rae Town community in Kingston have benefitted from a skills training and entrepreneurship programme.
  • Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, said they have been given a second chance in life.
  • Four of the participants have been offered full time employment following their work experience.

Thirty residents of the Rae Town community in Kingston have benefitted from a skills training and entrepreneurship programme that was undertaken at a cost of approximately $1.3 million.

The Rae Town Employment Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Development Programme was implemented by the Morris Entrepreneurship Centre of Northern Caribbean University (NCU), in association with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), with funding from the European Union’s Poverty Reduction Programme (PRP).

In congratulating the 20 women and 10 men, who graduated from the programme on September 26, at the Jamaica Business Development Incubator Resource Centre on Marcus Garvey Drive, Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, said they have been given a second chance in life and their obligation is to enthuse others with the same message, skills and habit that they have developed over the course of their training.

Rev. Thwaites, who is also Member of Parliament for Central Kingston, where Rae Town is situated, thanked the organisers and sponsors ofthe project for their “good investment”.

“The more our people are educated, the more we foster a knowledge and skills economy in Jamaica, the more likely we are to succeed both in our personal ambitions and also in our national purposes,” the Education Minister said.

He argued that none of the big foreign investments that Jamaica is seeking to attract will work, “unless our people have the right knowledge and skills and we have the right attitudes towards work, towards ourselves, towards our fellow men and women.”

He advised the participants to take whatever opportunity they can get to work and use it as a stepping stone to bigger and better things. Already, four of the participants have been offered full time employment following their work experience.

The Rae Town Employment Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Development Programme was conducted over the course of three months. Among its objectives was to alleviate unemployment among the residents through entrepreneurship and employability skills training.

The job readiness component sought to develop the employability skills among out-of-school youths, who comprise a significant portion of the unemployed persons within the community.

PRP Programme Project Manager at JSIF, Dr. Eleanor Henry, said the graduates have learnt how to develop a business plan and business financing strategies. They also attained job seeking and retention skills; participated in job readiness and employability skills training and seminars, which included interview techniques.

“Now you are ready for the next step and you have options. You are more employable and may opt to work for someone, or you may decide to start your own businesses. In addition, you are now empowered to become change agents and to act as mentors for other persons in your community. All of this redounds to the social and economic development and benefit of the Rae Town community and the entire country,” she told the graduates.

Participant Lawrence Lingard, who prior to the programme was an unemployed youth in Rae Town, expressed gratitude on behalf of the participants.

“The programme started in June with an orientation and on boarding the bus, none of us knew that this experience would have had such an impact on our lives,” he said.

He described the programme as very enlightening, noting that it “taught us a variety of skills that will not only help us in choosing different careers but also how to go about doing so and the approach we should take towards it.”

He recommended its continuation in more inner-city communities noting that “a lot of youngsters in these areas are skilled but have no means in exercising these skills outside of their communities.