JAMAICA-EDUCATION- Prime Minister launches programme to help young people

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KINGSTON, Jamaica, May 9, CMC. – A programme to provide educational and job opportunities for young people, was launched on Monday by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
The Housing Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) is targeted at persons, aged 18 to 24, who are not employed or enrolled in a school or programme of training.
HolnessssIt is being headed by Lieutenant Colonel Martin Rickman, who is on secondment from the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF).
So far under the programme, some 15,000 apprenticeship spaces have been identified.
In his remarks, at the launch held at the Office of the Prime Minister, Holness said Lieutenant Rickman will be surveying the entire Government in order to identify opportunities where youngsters can be engaged.
“Those who do not have basic education … will be provided with opportunities for basic education, and those who are not trained will be provided with opportunities to develop employable skills,” he pointed out.
He added that the initiative will be managed under an apprenticeship framework, noting that the Government will be revising the National Apprenticeship Act.
The Prime Minister said all arms of Government will play a role, with 300 youths to be placed at the National Water Commission to work under the entity’s Non-Revenue Water (NRW) Reduction Programme.
“You really need an army of youngsters moving around in the community. They have a device that has geolocation on it, and they will be able to map, by satellite, the exact geographic location of a meter.”
He also informed that 20 persons will also be placed at the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) under the programme.
According to the Prime Minister the focus is on getting “our unattached youngsters into some form of training, life skill and character education development and into employment… that is beneficial for the people of the country and beneficial in improving the efficiency of Government”.
He said that liaison officers within the various ministries have been tasked with coming up with the programmes of work, which will then be passed on to the national coordinator.
“He will then identify the youngsters and put them through a process of training, (and) work out with you the protocol as to how they will be employed within your operations, their remuneration and their supervision,” he said.
He added that the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, along with the merged agencies of HEART Trust/NTA, the National Youth Service (NYS) and the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL), will be involved in the process.
In his remarks, Lieutenant Rickman said the HOPE programme is intended to provide an avenue for the development of fully rounded individuals, who have the social, academic and technical skills to become productive members of the society.
“There are currently 130,000 youths that are not engaged in any meaningful way. They are often described as unattached, at-risk with low self-worth and low self-esteem, and who are vulnerable to getting involved in nefarious activities; and they often do,” he pointed out.
Lieutenant Rickman said the HOPE programme will buttress all the efforts across Government to engage these unattached youths in a meaningful way.
He noted that all existing programmes will be rationalised and streamlined, so that there will be more effective coordination of effort, resources and leadership for greater impact and to ensure the desired outcomes are achieved.
“The basic idea is that all participants will be trained in a core programme comprised of life skills, cultural awareness, volunteerism and mentorship, and then be given the specific skills training, after which they will be allowed to work in that skill area for a stipend with a savings component,” he outlined.
Rickman said opportunities have already been identified in areas such as document management and digitising, environmental management, geographic information systems, infrastructure and construction, registration, verification and audit, hospitality and national service enlistment in the JDF.

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