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A private sector coalition, headed by the Private sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ), has embarked on the implementation of a multi-million intervention programme aimed at fostering renewal efforts among inner city youth.
Aptly named Youth Upliftment Through Employment (YUTE), the project seeks to target some of the root causes of crime, violence and unemployment impacting young people, through an aggressive 30-month programme.
Approximately 2,200 young persons from eight inner-city communities in Kingston and St. Andrew are expected to benefit from the initiative, costing some $874 million during the first phase. The targeted communities include: Denham Town, Jones Town, Mountain View, Parade Gardens, Rockfort, Olympic Gardens, Tivoli Gardens and Trench Town.

Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) President, Joseph M. Matalon (right), along with Chief Executive Officer, Sandra Glasgow (left), and Chief Executive Officer, Jamaica Money Market Brokers Limited (JMMB), Keith Duncan having a light discussion at the launch of the Youth Upliftment Through Employment (YUTE) programme, at the Courtleigh Auditorium, New Kingston, on December 8.

Speaking at a media briefing on Wednesday (December 8) at the Courtleigh Auditorium, New Kingston, to outline details of the initiative, PSOJ President, Joseph M. Matalon, explained that YUTE, which targets unattached inner-city youth, will seek to improve the participants’ individual marketability, provide some 13,000 work experience or internship opportunities and facilitate entrepreneurial development.
The PSOJ President said the programme kicked-off in July with a six-month design and initiation process slated for completion by mid January 2011, at which time full implementation will commence.
Mr. Matalon explained that the rationale for YUTE’s establishment arose out of private sector concerns, in the wake of the civil unrest in sections of Kingston in May, about the need for a coordinated approach and response to some of the underlying causes which were deemed to have contributed to that scenario.
Chief among these, he noted, was the need for training, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities.
Mr. Matalon said a special PSOJ committee, headed by Jamaica Money Market Brokers (JMMB) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Keith Duncan, was appointed to spearhead courses of action and responses that could be pursued for implementation, the end result being YUTE.
He explained that YUTE’s blueprint is pivoted on three distinct areas of opportunity for participants; Employment, Entrepreneurship and YUTE U-Turn which seek to facilitate jobs, business development, counseling and re-socialization.
“In essence, the programme is designed to enable inner-city youth through a contribution to their own development to make a solid contribution to Jamaica’s development,” he pointed out.
Mr. Matalon said an advisory council, comprising private and public sector and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), will oversee the programme’s implementation. Organizations which have consented to join include: the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC); Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA); Jamaica Exporters’ Association (JEA); Micro Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Alliance; and PSOJ and their associates and partners.
State entities lending their support and endorsing the programme include; the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) and Citizens Security and Justice Programme (CSJP).
“The PIOJ has endorsed the programme as a part of the community renewal programme, the youth development (aspect) of that programme, and they will also have a representative on the advisory council,” Mr. Matalon said.
He also advised that both political parties have been briefed on the programme. He said private sector executives met with the respective Ministers and Opposition Spokespersons on Youth and Culture, and Education, the programme was presented to them and they are “generally supportive”.
The communities were selected based on the youth population and the extent of unemployment. Efforts were also made to implement the programme in areas where committed and potential stakeholders, particularly business interests, have operations on the ground.
He said care was taken to ensure that there was “adequate balance”, in terms of the participation of communities that are generally supportive of one or other of the two main political parties.
Mr. Matalon said that the programme will be funded by: accessing government-run programmes and attendant services; contributions; and financing sourced from various private corporations and international development partners, either directly or through the PIOJ.
He said that PIOJ was also in discussions with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
“We expect that 2,200 young people are going to be registered in the programme at the end of the two-year period. At least 1,300 of those will have permanent jobs or (would) have had a work experience or an apprenticeship under their belt. Over 1,000 young people would have had full or part time work, a further 126, we hope, will establish enterprises, and 162 of them will be in the process of completing U-Turn,” he stated optimistically.
On completion of the first phase, in January 2013, YUTE will be reviewed and analysed with a view to seeing how it can be expanded to other communities.