The Ministry of Labour and Social Security, through its Steps-to-Work programme, will be disbursing some $42 million in entrepreneurial grants this year, in an effort to assist persons across the island to establish small businesses.
This amount represents a 100 per cent increase over last year’s allocation, and will see participants in PATH households, who are engaged in the Steps-to-Work project, receiving up to $100,000.00 in grant funding.
Addressing participants at the closing ceremony of the PATH/Steps-to-Work programme, at the Cambridge High School recently, Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, said that investing in a person’s education; and improving his or her skills, are sure ways of improving productivity.
“Providing training and educational opportunities for the unemployed to re-skill and up-skill will enhance their chances of securing employment. It is also crucial if we expect to improve the productivity culture in Jamaica as a priority strategy for growth and development,” the Minister pointed out.
He informed that the Ministry, in keeping with that objective, has plans to increase the number of beneficiaries under the Steps- to-Work programme by an additional 2,000, in addition to the over 4,000 already making use of referral services.
Citing the visible successes in the entrepreneurial grant funded projects, the Minister reported that several projects established last year are still up and running, and are even providing employment for other young persons in need.
“Reports received indicate that of the total number awarded, 60 per cent are still in business after six months and approximately 45 per cent are making profits and contributing to the overall household income. It is interesting to note that some of these persons were able to employ others out of the businesses,” Mr. Kellier said.
“Eligible persons must be willing to participate in the rigorous training that is provided by the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC),” the Minister emphasised.
Mr. Kellier called on all Jamaicans to be more supportive of the youth, as they are the “hope for the future,” especially in this year when the country reflects on 50 years of Independence and planning for the future.
“Let us prepare and empower our youth to be an important part of this glorious future. I congratulate our graduating campers and wish them every success in their endeavours. I charge them to take full responsibility for their future prospects, by focusing on the positives from this summer experience,” the Minister said.