Persons with disabilites to gain work experience through NYS programme
Due to expansive growth seen since the inception of the National Youth Service's (NYS) Summer Employment Programme 10 years ago, more than 5,000 students - about 10 per cent of whom will be persons with disabilities - across Jamaica are expected to be employed this year.
"The National Youth Service serves a target group of ages 17-24, and the Summer Employment Programme seeks to provide meaningful work experience for three weeks in July and three weeks August. We seek to expose the young people to a full employment process that will assist them in improving their employability skills and also their professional work. The programme also has a volunteer component," said Nickeshia Lindsay, acting director of community services at the NYS.
"Many of these students are leaving fifth form because one of the requirements is for them to have at least three subjects. This opportunity will be a foot in the door for them as well as many persons who have never worked before. This is good work experience and we hope that they will be able to identify what their professional strengths are," she added.
Lindsay went on to note that persons with disabilities are faced with numerous challenges when seeking employment, hence the programme is used as a tool to give them much-needed experience while also showing employers that persons with disabilities have a place in the workforce.
"Of the 5,000 persons that we are seeking to be placed in our programmes, we facilitate and seek to make 10 per cent of them people with disabilities. At the moment, we have approximately 350 application forms from persons islandwide with disabilities. A large number of these are within the Kingston Metropolitan Area," she said.
"There are a large number of people with disabilities out there who are seeking employment. For many, this may be their only option for employment. It is through this medium that we open the door for them as some are placed in government agencies and private-sector entities. The challenges they face don't deter them because they come ready to work and are capable of handling the tasks at hand," Lindsay added.
She went on to note that the feedback from employers was usually good and some of the participants retained employment beyond the duration of the programme.