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JIS News

The Ministry of Labour and Social Security, is one step closer in fulfilling its promise to implement, during the course of this fiscal year, initiatives to promote training and employment for youths across Jamaica.
This, as the Ministry on October 22 launched its Special Youth Employment and Training Project (SYEAT), the first of three initiatives proposed by the Minister of Labour and Social Security, Pearnel Charles, during his 2008/09 Sectoral presentation.
The project, which is an initiative between the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the HEART Trust/NTA and the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning, is fully endorsed by Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, who encourages youths not to give up hope.
“This programme is another initiative that is aimed at making a difference and there are a number of others. The important thing is that all these programmes must be defined, driven and executed by one imperative and that is to provide hope with meaningfulness. Because the worst thing that you can do is to take an illiterate, frustrated person and turn him into an educated and frustrated person. It becomes more difficult to handle,” Prime Minister Golding, who was the keynote speaker at the launch of the SYEAT, explained.
He appealed to the trainees to keep strong as there are obstacles that they will face in society.
“There is something that I want to do, that is to appeal to all of these trainees that there is honour in work. There is no work, providing that it is not illegal work; there is no work that is dishonourable. There are biases in the society that you will have to wrestle with but you must fight these biases,” he advised.
Also speaking at the launch was SYEAT Trainee, Latania Johnson, who thanked the Government for providing the youth with a second chance.
“Words are not enough to express our gratitude. Thank you is simply not enough. Thanks to the organisations that have come together to formulate this programme to assist us. There are persons in this group who did not think that they would get a decent job, and who did not think it was possible for them to go back to school. And so we will endeavour to demonstrate competency on the job and good manners, so that we can be an example and help pave the way for others,” she asserts.
The programme is expected to train approximately 10,000 youths over a four year period. According to Director of Social Security within the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Collette Roberts Risden, already 800 persons have been recruited and are now being trained.
“These trainees here today are just a part of who are already working. The Ministry is still in the process of assessing and training. We have done a batch for Kingston, St. Catherine, St. Andrew, St. James, St. Thomas and Clarendon has just been completed and we will be moving on to St. Ann and St. Mary shortly,” Mrs. Roberts Risden points out.
In an interview with JIS News, the Director of Social Security explains that “when the trainees are placed in a corporate entity, HEART Trust/NTA monitors them through their social workers and constantly assesses them. They are then placed in a job for training approximately three to four weeks after coming on to the programme. They will be attached to the organisations for one year”.
Mrs. Roberts Risden is encouraging young persons to join the programme, and is optimistic that the Ministry will be able to get the 2,500 trainees for the first year of the initiative.
“Any youth between the ages of 18 to24 can be a part of the programme. They can call or visit any one of the Social Security offices island wide or any of the HEART offices and register there. As long as they are registered, the head office will process their application and then they will be assessed by HEART and placed in the next training for that parish. I am however optimistic that we will be able to get the 2,500 persons for the first year of the programme, as we have already registered 800 in just three months,” she says.
Already 25 entities have joined this initiative, and are also lauding the Government for what they deem as an illustrious move to rid the country of youth unemployment.
“Corporate Jamaica wishes to laud the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, for having established this project. It is one that will be mutually beneficial to all employers who have decided to participate and also to the young people of this nation,” says the representative of the participating employers and Training Officer at the Gleaner Company, Mary Dick.
The project has three components: training and skills programmes, back to school opportunities; and employment, and was approved by Cabinet on June 2, as a short term labour market intervention to promote youth employment and skills training.
It seeks to help promote developmental skills and training among youths, certification, a culture of responsible behaviour among young persons, and access to work after preparedness.
The HEART Trust/NTA as one of the tripartite members of the project has responsibility for the initial screening and assessment, as well as the monitoring and the assessment of trainees on the job. In addition, HEART will provide skills training and certification in at least one area in commercial and technical skills.
The Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning will have responsibility for training in basic literacy and numeracy skills. Under the project, the Ministry will enlist the assistance of employers in corporate entities as partners, to facilitate the engagement of at least two trainees each in an apprenticeship arrangement.
The Ministry is responsible for the implementation and running of the programme. Upon completion of the programme, participating youths will become more empowered to enter the world of work and would have gained exposure to career guidance and counselling to further their growth and development.