Sun | Aug 19, 2018

MOU signed to help MoBay's at-risk youth

Published:Monday | June 4, 2018 | 12:00 AMOkoye Henry/Gleaner Writer

Western Bureau:

Three major entities on Friday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in Montego Bay to forge a public-private partnership that is aimed at granting some 25 unattached youths the opportunity to transform their lives through a major skills-training and apprenticeship programme.

The three entities, the Phillip and Christine Gore Family Foundation, Heart Trust/NTA and the Government's Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) programme, aim to target youngsters between the ages of 18 and 24.

During the signing ceremony, held at the Montego West Village in Fairfield, Colonel Martin Rickman, the national coordinator for HOPE, took time out to stress the importance of the initiative.

"This is a significant point for HOPE because I have been trying to get many government and private organisations on board with HOPE to open their doors and take on some of these unattached youths who number more than 200,000 individuals across Jamaica," explained Rickman.

"HOPE has about 3,000 persons in the country engaged so far in various organisations and it has just been over a year," said Rickman. "With this MOU signing today, I hope it will set the example for other organisations, foundations and employers. I appeal for more organisations to open their doors and partner with us so we can engage more youths in a meaningful way.

Christine Gore, director of the Phillip and Christine Gore Family Foundation, expressed similar sentiments to Rickman's, urging corporations to not idly sit by and allow these at-risk youths to be recruited into gangs.

Gore explained that the foundation will be paying the trainees a stipend for the 12-18-month duration of the programme, as well as assisting HEART and HOPE in finding internship posts.

According to Dr Janet Dyer, HEART's managing director, the trainees will be certified at the end of the programme and will have the opportunity to become entrepreneurs or go out into the world of work.