SDC/USAID launch at-risk youth programme in the West
The Social Development Commission (SDC) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) are seeking to draft at-risk youths in St James into the formal working world by facilitating a skills training programme.
The initiative is designed to train youths between the ages of 18 and 29 in electrical installation or metal welding for an eight-week period, after which they will receive certification by City & Guilds.
The programme is one arm of the ongoing Community Empowerment and Transformation Project II (COMET II) that is funded by USAID and seeks to build long-term and sustainable development in communities and civil-society organisations.
"We were oversubscribed with youngsters wanting to be a part of the programme, but we settled on 40 youngsters to receive training and we are now in our third week where 25 are pursuing electrical and 15 doing metal welding," explained Carolyn Brown-James, the SDC's community development officer for St James.
"The enthusiasm and reception were welcomed, because some persons have been practising but have no certification. So a programme such as this is easy for them to do. Classes are held each Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.," added Brown-James.
The SDC officer further told The Gleaner that the training and certification of these youngsters also meant that they would be able to engage their respective communities in meaningful ways.
"They will not have the time for any crime and violence or be involved in any activity that is going to bring down shame and disgrace on themselves and their community, because, instead, they will be focused on doing something meaningful," continued Brown-James.
"So we are looking at that cohort of youths who aren't going to be involved in any crime and violence because they are already being taken care of," added Brown-James.
She added that some 25 youths would be exposed to a sports component: "Further to that, we are going to move them on to train as actual referees, where they will do the physical component of the training. We are taking youths from Salt Spring, Paradise, Norwood, Barrett Town, Bogue and more."