Tameka Hird and Theodore Leon are two young persons hoping to make the list of those selected to participate in this year’s National Youth Service (NYS) National Summer Employment Programme (NSEP), scheduled for six weeks, between July and August.
The two were among approximately 5,400 applicants from across the island who were invited to attend interviews in Kingston between May 15 and 19, for the 3,750 openings expected to be available in some 300 private and public sector entities, partnering with the NYS for this year’s NSEP.
The programme is tailored towards empowering young people through voluntarism, character development and work experience. Each year, persons between ages 17-24 years are selected for placement in various entities across the island, where they are sensitised and exposed to professional ethics, standards and experience in the work environment.
Over 50,000 participants have benefitted from work-related programmes and activities administered by the NYS since its inception nearly 40 years ago.
An agency of the Ministry of Youth and Culture, the NYS was established in 1973, with the mission of creating a cadre of patriotic, disciplined, responsible, caring, confident, self-reliant and culturally aware young people who, through involvement in voluntary activities, contribute to personal, community, national and international development.
Speaking with JIS News during the NSEP four-day interview sessions, Tameka, an 18 year-old Excelsior High School student, said she was making a second attempt at getting into the programme, after being unsuccessful in 2011.
Tameka, who said she was informed about the programme by her uncle who is employed at the Ministry of Youth and Culture, is hopeful she will be selected, and has great expectations of the programme.
“I am hoping (if selected) to get work experience and be able to communicate with others better… (and) to be a good problem solver,” she said, while outlining one of her main aspirations.
“I want to give back to the country. My dream is to open an orphanage to help young people who don’t have parents… to help them and to let them know that they are not alone and there are persons out here (in the society) who do care for them,” she said.
Tameka is also encouraging other young persons to get involved in the NYS’ programmes to see how best these can assist them to make meaningful contributions to Jamaica’s advancement, as well as enhancing their personal development.
“It is a very good (programme) and I’m sure that this experience will help them in the future, whether it is through work or any other field in which they think they should get involved. Additionally, they should stay focused and endeavour to achieve great things in whatever they do,” she advised.
Nineteen year-old Theodore, who attended Kingston College, said the NYS and the NSEP have the capacity to assist young people, particularly inner-city youth, “to be able to achieve something for themselves.”
Theodore, who is attempting to get into the programme for the first time, told JIS News that his mother, who is a high school teacher, informed him about it, while pointing to the benefits to be gained if selected to participate.
“I think this programme will help to enhance my growth as a person, as well as achieve my career goal of becoming a physical education teacher,” he said.
Theodore also believes that the nation’s youth stand to gain much from their involvement and participation in NYS programmes, and other similar activities, once given opportunities to do so. In this regard, he urges his peers to seize the initiative by informing themselves about these and other programmes.
Acting NYS Executive Director, Richard DePass, tells JIS News that the interview sessions were aimed at identifying suitable candidates displaying the requisite and appropriate work ethic, deportment, and team spirit for placement in the NSEP.
“We were also looking for persons who are willing to volunteer,…because we believe that through voluntarism, you are able to develop and hone your skills and prepare yourself for the working world. So, we tried to identify the most suitable persons, to ensure that wherever they are serving, they are getting the best quality, and also facilitating the process for them to have a good internship,” he explains.
The Acting Executive Director informs that in order to heighten awareness of the programme, the NYS undertook wide-scale sensitisation efforts, in collaboration with a number community organisations and institutions. These included sports and youth clubs, and schools, which disseminated the information to youngsters affiliated with them. These efforts were also complemented by a series of islandwide promotional activities.
Mr. DePass says while only 3,750 of the applicants will be selected, those not making the final list also stand to gain.
“For many of them, this may be their first interview experience. So, we hope that they would have learnt what it is like to be in an interview session,” he adds.
Mr. DePass informs that the 3,750 selectees will be divided into two groups for placement in the 200 public sector entities and 100 private sector organisations partnering with the NYS this year, over the six-week period. Each group, he says, will work for three weeks, beginning July 2, and again on August 7.
He says a two-day orientation exercise will be held for the selectees. This, he explains, is to help in “fine tuning” their skills and preparing them for matriculation into the work environment.
Mr. DePass advises that an evaluation and assessment of the NSEP will be conducted, following its conclusion in August, to determine whether it met all its goals and targets this year.
Youth and Culture Minister, Hon. Lisa Hanna, who addressed a number of the applicants on the first day of the interviews, commended them for taking a “step in the right direction,” by applying for entry into the programme.
“What is good about the NYS is that what we are encouraging across the country is getting young people, like yourselves, oriented and more familiar with the workplace,” she said.
The Minister urged them not to deem their involvement in NYS activities as merely being in a job, but rather as an opportunity to enhance their workforce skills, while encouraging the characteristics of voluntarism.
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter