Minister announces training programme for at-risk youth
Education, Youth and Information Minister Senator Ruel Reid has announced a pilot project aimed at providing education and training for disengaged youth living in crime hotspots.
Addressing the new cohort of 12 'ambassadors' (persons from the business community who will be advocates) for the University of the West Indies, Mona - Western Jamaica Campus (WJC) at Sandals Montego Bay on Thursday, Reid said the project - Career Advancement Programme (CAP) Youth Employment Solution - will focus on students 16 to 24 years old, residing in five parishes.
Estimated to cost $89.7 million, it is anticipated that at the end of programme, 80 per cent of the target group will either become employed, participate in apprenticeship programmes, or pursue higher education.
One hundred and fifty students in St James are set to benefit from the programme, 150 in Kingston and St Andrew, 100 in Clarendon, 50 from St Catherine, and 50 from Westmoreland.
"Recruitment strategy will ensure engagement of 250,000 youth who did not complete secondary education," said Reid.
The minister said that the island's social, political and economic problems stemmed from negative and destructive values and attitudes.
"This programme will focus on discipline, literacy and numerical skills, occupational training, and employability skills," he told the gathering, which included a number of powerbrokers from the Montego Bay business community.
The 12 new ambassadors, representing the hotel sector and other business interests, will advocate for the UWI Mona-WJC to make it the preferred choice for global education, professional development, and for producing workplace-ready graduates.
Reid said the CAP was conceived against the background that in addition to a high youth unemployment challenge, "we further have a higher youth unemployability problem".
This, he cautioned, results in crime hotspots, where there is high disengagement of youth from the formal education system.
The CAP will be implemented by the Caribbean Maritime Institute. Select students will be trained and certified to take on jobs in a number of in-demand fields.