JIS News

Approximately 43 young people from Kingston and St. Andrew are currently being trained in housing construction through the Youth Upliftment Through Employment (YUTE) Build Programme.

YUTE Build is a component of the broader YUTE initiative, being administered by a private sector stakeholder coalition, which aims to empower young people in communities, deemed troubled. This by: improving their employability through mentorship and skills upgrading; and providing opportunities for gainful employment.

The initiative (YUTE Build), which forms part of the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP), is being jointly undertaken with the National Housing Trust (NHT) and HEART Trust/NTA, over a nine-month period. It targets persons, 18 to 29 years, who are currently out of school and unemployed, for vocational training, and professional and personal development.

The trainees, who have been selected from NHT housing communities as well as participants in the general YUTE programme, will receive training and certification, and exposure to activities at various construction sites

Manager, Technical Support Services Department, HEART Trust/NTA, Dwayne Pryce, tells JIS News that the theoretical component of the programme will be delivered at the agency's academy at Rockfort in Kingston. With respect to the practical aspect, he says the organization is collaborating with the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) and NHT to expose the participants to a range of vocational disciplines and activities at various worksites.

These, he informs, include: proper usage of hand and power tools, small plants and equipment, levelling devices, and construction materials; as well as waste disposal.

"Other areas include (administering) concrete to simple forms; mixing cement material, which would include mortar and concrete; preparing for painting and decoration; preparing for carpentry construction; preparing solid plastering; and dry wall plastering. They will (also) be doing entrepreneurial skills (which will) teach them how to (manage a business), handle their budgets, (and) human resource management skills, etcetera," he outlines.  

Mr. Pryce contends that the ultimate goal is to encourage the participants to become small contractors and entrepreneurs so that they, in turn, can generate employment for others.

YUTE Build Programme Coordinator, Melissa Johnson, says the initiative is geared towards the holistic development of the participants, in preparing them for the world of work.

"We want to ensure that they don't just have the formal certification, but that when they do go into the field, they are competent (in terms of their) skills. (Further that they are) competent in terms of their ability to use (these) skills to (make provisions) for their families, for their communities, and (become) ambassadors for programmes such as YUTE," she states.

Programme participant, Shane Neilson, who aspires to become an architect, says the skills and knowledge he has acquired will positively impact his life over the long term.

"I (have) learnt about occupational health and safety, all the safety rules, the gears and (all the things that you are) supposed to (do) to maintain a healthy environment, protect yourself and the people around you. I have (also) learnt construction project management, (and) the different areas like the design team, (and) the building team," he says.

In noting that he is also able to undertake practical applications, such as tiling and block laying, Mr. Neilson says his participation in the programme has brought him closer to his career aspiration.

Another participant, aspiring entrepreneur, Tasheka Halloway, in lauding the programme, describes it as an "awesome" initiative.

"I've always wanted to own a business for myself; so this programme is showing me how to go about it. Even if it's not in the construction area…that definitely is a plus for me because that was always a goal of mine, to own a business. So (whether it is) a construction business or any other business, I know this programme will help me in every way," she posits, while encouraging other young persons, interested in a career in construction, to join the programme.

Ms. Johnson tells JIS News that the YUTE Build Programme commenced in November 2012, with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Government and the administrators of the Youth Upliftment Through Employment (YUTE) project.

She informs that at the end of the current YUTE Build programme, it is anticipated that internship opportunities will be created for the participants who successfully complete the programme.

"With that, we are hoping to ease their transition into the world of work, and after that it is up to them to put into practise everything that they have learnt – both the hard and soft skills," she says.

Ms. Johnson boasts that the attendance rate for the participants involved in the programme is exemplar, pointing out that this is indicative of their interest in it.

"Our young persons are often painted in a (way) that is not very positive. What this particular cohort has demonstrated is that when you provide opportunities and resources and support and guide your young people through that, you can uncover real success," she adds.

For additional information on the new recruitment cycle, persons may contact the YUTE Programme Management Office at 920-6254; or liaise with the relevant NHT representatives in their communities.

The Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP) is one of the Government's strategic responses to unemployment among Jamaicans, particularly those in lower socio-economic groups, persons with special needs, as well as those with low skill levels. 

The brainchild of Prime Minister, the Most Hon, Portia Simpson Miller, JEEP has yielded jobs for some 37,000 persons since its inception in March 2012.

BY: CHRIS PATTERSON