KINGSTON — Students participating in the National Summer Employment Programme (NESP) are hailing the Government-funded initiative for giving them the opportunity to gain valuable work experience and contribute to nation building.
The programme, administrated by the National Youth Service (NYS), aims to engage high school and tertiary level students in productive activity during the summer, in government and private sector organisations.
Close to 5,000 young Jamaicans are being employed in two phases over the months of July and August and they are paid a stipend to cover food and transportation.
Seventeen year-old Mikailia Mais, who worked for three weeks in the Marketing Department of the Tax Administration Department, downtown Kingston, tells JIS News that she is grateful for the programme.
“I think it is great because you can be in school and get a job that you can put on your resumé. Nowadays (employers) keep asking for job experience but if you just leave school and you have never worked before, how can you get job experience? So I think NYS is doing a great job,” she says.
She tells JIS News that while the stipend paid to the participants is modest, the experience gained is worth far more than the money. “When you go out there, you are working; you get more familiar with the workplace, you learn work ethics, so I think …just having the experience, it is worth far more,” she says.
Mikailia, who is a recent graduate of the Vauxhall High School in Kingston, says she will be pursuing a degree programme in Tourism at Excelsior Community College in September.
She advises other summer workers to do a good job wherever they are placed “as you can get a job reference from the people you work with”.
St.Hugh’s High School student, Octavia Dyer, who has also completed a three-week job at the Registry Department of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, says she benefitted from the experience.
“It taught me how I should conduct myself at work, what my dress code should be like and what society is like and what the adult world is about. So, I understand when mommy comes from work why she is tired, because when I returned from work, I was very tired,” she laughs.
Octavia, who will be entering grade 11 next school term, says she will be taking eight Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) subjects to qualify for sixth form and later tertiary studies in information technology at university.
The NSEP was instituted in 1993 as a means of providing employment throughout the summer months for inner-city youth, but was expanded to address the issue on a national scale. More than 45,000 participants have benefitted from the programme over the 18 years.
Acting Executive Director of the NYS, Alan Beckford, tells JIS News that the programme mainly provides job opportunities for Jamaican students, ages 15 to 24 years, so that they could experience the “real working world”.
He informs that orientation sessions are held to ensure that participants are sufficiently tooled and have employable skills to successfully complete the three-week placement.
“There is a training process before the students go. We give them a couple of days of training in the skills that they are required to have on the job, so it is hoped that when the students finish school they will have some work experience,” he says.
Participating students are required to submit their resumés, application letters for a job, as well as a five-year plan. “We provide a stipend for the students so the organisation is not required to give them payment, but we encourage organisations that would like to, to give the students something extra,” he points out.
Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, under which the NYS falls, Senator Warren Newby, says the NSEP is a chance for young people to experience the world of work and increase their awareness about productivity.
“It is not intended to compensate them per se for work done. The intention is to subsidise their travel and lunch in these facilities,” he tells JIS News.
Senator Newby says that while the Government could not at this time, increase the stipend paid to the large number of summer workers, he indicated that as economic conditions improve “then there will be the capacity to employ more young people”.
By ELAINE HARTMAN RECKORD, JIS Information Officer