The Government is to review its Youth Policy, to sharpen its focus on entrepreneurship, skills training and preparing young people for the world of work in the global village.
Addressing a Town Hall Meeting, comprising youth leaders of community-based organizations, students' councils and uniformed groups from St. Catherine, Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, stated that her mandate from the Prime Minister recognizes that Jamaica's youth population was “most critical to the country’s development."
Against that background, the Ministry of Youth and Culture will be tasked with the responsibility of developing a comprehensive data base of the country’s youth population, a review of the 2004 youth policy and the promotion of a symbiotic youth development partnership with the private sector.
According to Miss Hanna, these activities will lay the foundation for greater participation of young people in the formulation of appropriate policies, and ensure that limited resources are targeted to the preparation of young people for the increasingly competitive world of work.
She emphasized that the youth need to look beyond traditional areas of employment and look to new and emerging opportunities, particularly in the areas of agriculture and agro-processing, information and communications technologies and culture.
Alluding to the fact that there are more than 670,000 persons in the 20-29 age groups, with about 400,000 being either unemployed or not in the labour force, and with 70 percent of the labour force being unskilled, she said there is need for education and training “to meet the demand” of the competitive challenges of the information age and globalization.
The Town Hall Meeting was the Minister’s first public engagement, and she welcomed the occasion as an expression of the “openness and engagement” that will characterize policy formulation and implementation by her ministry going forward.