Jamaica joins the rest of the world in observing Monday, August 12 as International Youth Day (IYD). The theme for IYD this year, “Youth Migration: Moving Development Forward”, provides an opportunity for attention to be focused on an issue that affects, and continues to occupy the minds of a large segment of youth populations globallyJamaica supports the objective of the commemoration of IYD since 1999 as a platform to highlight the efforts of the world’s youth in improving global society.

The observance of IYD 2013 seeks to raise awareness of the livelihood, struggles and opportunities that migration presents for young migrants and other youth who are affected by the phenomenon.

The National Youth Survey conducted by the Ministry of Youth and Culture in 2010, indicated that almost sixty per cent (60%) of Jamaica’s young people viewed migration as the answer to their desire to access opportunities for education and employment. Like elsewhere in the world, this fact is reflected in high levels of emigration among the young, skilled, working-age cohort of the population and particularly young persons under the age of 20.

Jamaica has also witnessed a high level of female work-related migration which leads to an absence of mothers with economically positive, but emotionally negative results in terms of the effects on families, especially children who are left behind.

Migration will continue to be part of the Jamaican reality and an option that opens doors of opportunity for many young people. In this context, the Government continues to play its part in increasing local opportunities that present viable alternatives to migration especially for young people. As we seek to make Jamaica the “place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business”, it is important that our youth are made aware of existing and potential opportunities here in Jamaica.

The Government’s number one priority, which cuts across Ministries, is ensuring the macro-economic conditions that facilitate employment creation and entrepreneurship particularly among youth. During the summer months this year, the Ministry of Youth and Culture through its agency the National Youth Service placed 4,000 young people in employment internships to get them familiarized with the world of work under the Summer Employment Programme. This year, NYS is providing job placement in Information Technology and Business Administration for another 600 young people. At the same time between March and May this year more than 4,000 were trained for work opportunities in the hospitality industry through the “Learning for Life” Programme of the Ministry of Youth and Culture in collaboration with the Bars to Go Training Institute, with another 6,000 being trained during the summer period.

Where migration takes place, our young people should be encouraged to utilize the various dimensions of Brand Jamaica, available technology and their rich cultural heritage for competitive advantage and to create synergies between migration and economic development in Jamaica. Against the background of youth, and in particular skilled and educated youth, accounting for a significant percentage of Jamaican emigrants, it is critical that there be an urgent and continuous engagement of our young people in discussions on migration and development as we seek to maximise the contribution of migration to national development.

In advancing this dialogue the Ministry of Youth and Culture through the National Centre for Youth Development and the United Nations Development Programme will be collaborating to present a series of such engagement islandwide as part of the activities to mark International Youth Day 2013.

Our youth are among Jamaica’s most valuable resources. Youth are the trustees of our prosperity, and are key partners for sustainable development. On this International Youth Day, the Government renews its commitment to support our young people in all aspects of their development. As a nation, let us use the opportunity to resolve to increasing investments in our youth even as we encourage our young people to devote their energies and creative ideas into shaping a better future for themselves and their country.

Hon. Lisa Hanna, MP

August 12, 2013

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