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Youth and Culture Minister, Hon. Lisa Hanna, says the Government is willing to partner with private sector interests and stakeholders in youth development on programmes and initiatives aimed at the economic empowerment of young people.

She issued the invitation while addressing the second Social Development Commission (SDC) Parish/Town Hall Meeting in May Pen, Clarendon, on Wednesday (October  31).

At the meeting, she informed that the Ministry will be assisting over 700 additional young people island-wide to start businesses, as well as in getting placed in internship programmes being undertaken in partnership with the private sector.

Ms. Hanna informed the Ministry will embark on the implementation of a series of entrepreneurship training workshops, targeting over 500 young people, beginning this month, "going into the next couple of months".

Noting that this undertaking will be spearheaded by the Ministry’s agency, the National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD), Ms. Hanna informed that “we will also give them (young people) grants to start their own businesses across the 14 parishes."

The Minister also advised that an additional 200 young people will be placed in internship programmes across government ministries during November, through the National Youth Service and under the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica’s (PSOJ) Youth Upliftment Through Employment (YUTE) programme.

This partnership is being facilitated through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) established between the Ministry and PSOJ. She advised that the Ministry will also be training and placing an additional 800 persons over the next four to five months.

"Now this is not a lot, if you consider it, but it is a start," Ms. Hanna said, while expressing a willingness to hold discussions with stakeholders on other initiatives, in this regard.

Meanwhile, Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, who also spoke at the meeting, said that there was a “particular problem” with youth unemployment “that we have to address in multiple ways”.

These solutions, he pointed out, included training through institutions such as the HEART Trust/National Training Agency (NTA), which he contended “has a lot of facilities", which can be utilised to this end.

"We have major opportunities, also, for small business and micro enterprise loans that (if utilized could ensure that) the unemployment (rate) will come down, not so much from getting a job only, with someone else, but operating a little enterprise for yourself, as well as the other development activities in agriculture and elsewhere that we have to undertake,” Dr. Phillips said.

“But, we have a particular issue in that there are jobs to be filled and people without jobs and part of the challenge is providing the training so that the jobs available and the people available, match more closely. That is something, particularly with HEART and with some of the other training initiatives, (that) we are trying to do,” the Minister added.