For Jemima Miller Givans, the stipend earned from being a participant in the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP), assisted her to complete her tertiary studies.
“The programme has helped me to put more money together to help finish my final year at St. Joseph’s Teachers’ College," she informs JIS News.
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Ms. Miller Givans was among a group of 121 individuals who were employed by the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce during the summer, as the Ministry’s contribution to the programme.
She worked at Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) for six weeks, doing administrative work.
“I was doing data entry, putting in all the persons who were involved in the export market in Jamaica, the hoteliers, and the small business persons. I had to interact with all of them and find out if they are still in business or if there are anything that can be done to link them with the small farmers in Jamaica,” she says.
Ms. Miller Givans explains that persons in the programme are able to gain experience and earn an income. “Maybe you’re not earning what you would want to, but at the same time, you are gaining experience which is an asset in the world of work. So, I think it’s a good programme,” she adds.
The JEEP Co-ordinator in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Selvin Hamilton, says the participants were employed during the summer months of June, July, and August for one month in most cases, and worked in various departments within the Ministry.
“We identified that our best application of this process is in the area of summer employment and so we would target youth school leaving universities and colleges, because that’s the large portion of people who are unemployed and although some of them are going to school, some of them definitely require a summer job to help them pay their school fees and to continue school and JEEP does cover areas like this,” Mr. Hamilton tells JIS News.
He says that through JEEP, the Industry Ministry is looking to train young persons already involved in the craft industry, giving them a chance to hone their skills.
“We have another project where we are going to train some people…and we would then take on the job of placing them in organisations for them to get work experience,” he points out.
“These skills we would have already identified where we would likely get them employed, once we speak to the companies which are involved in it,” Mr. Hamilton says, adding that the participants will benefit from the work experience and the stipend.
He says that the persons who have benefitted from the programme are very grateful for the opportunity.
“They are excited; some of them never even thought they would get a job and then they have been given a job to be put in a normal working environment, so they can learn work ethic and learn about specific skills, and understand how the Ministry works. They are able to make their contribution and some of them have made some real excellent contribution,” Mr. Hamilton points out.
Thanks to the JEEP, several previously unemployed Jamaicans are getting a chance to earn an income, while gaining valuable work experience.
The JEEP, although administered by the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, cuts across nearly all government Ministries and their respective agencies.
In the meantime, Members of Parliament, other political representatives, government agencies, citizen associations, church groups and non-governmental organisations are being reminded that they can make submissions to the JEEP Secretariat, for projects to be executed under the initiative.
The JEEP is one of the strategies of the Government to respond to the chronic unemployment status of some Jamaicans, particularly those in the lower socio-economic strata, persons with special needs as well as those with low skill levels.
During phase one of JEEP, which ended recently, approximately 15,000 persons were employed in several Ministries and Agencies, undertaking tasks in the areas of infrastructure, agriculture, education and intensive labour.
For phase two, $6 billion has been earmarked to be spent on projects in the Ministries of Agriculture and Fisheries; Labour and Social Security; and Housing; HEART Trust/NTA and the National Housing Trust (NHT), among others.
It is projected that some 35,000 persons will be employed during this phase of the programme.