New job programme targets unattached youths
Kingston Gardens, Rose Town, communities in St James, Clarendon and St Catherine are some at-risk areas expected to benefit from a new employment programme which will be executed by Youth Upliftment Through Employment (YUTE).
The launch of the Inter-American Development Bank/Multi-lateral Investment Fund financed New Employment Opportunities for Youth in Jamaica (Neo-Jamaica), which was held at King's House in St Andrew, is expected to increase job placement opportunities for 10,000 poor and vulnerable youth ages 17 to 29.
Pointing to issues of youth unattachment and employment, Joseph M. Matalon, chairman of YUTE, told The Gleaner that there will be a robust drive to impact the lives of poor youth and to close the gap between skills that employers need and those that currently exist.
"YUTE has not traditionally worked in rural communities, so this is going to be somewhat our first time working outside of Kingston. We recognise that there are many communities across the island which would not be classified as inner-city communities but are still depressed and youth are marginalised from a training or employment perspective," he said.
Matalon added: "Some of these communities exist in St James, Clarendon and St Catherine, and we are excited and looking forward to roll out some programmes in these areas. I think over the next three to six months you will see a constant increase in momentum of the activities. By then, we should be in full flight," he continued.
The chairman also indicated that of the 10,000 youth to benefit from the programme, half of that number will be female.
"Nationally, there is an imperative to increase female participation in the workforce and to the extent through which this programme can aid in that effort, we will have to work on that," Matalon said.
"We have found the male cohort in our previous programmes of a similar nature to be in need of greater intervention than females, but it's perhaps on the end of work readiness and job placement that we will place that specific emphasis on females," he said.
Therese Turner Jones, general manager Caribbean Country Department, Inter-American Development Bank, said the programme, which was first launched in 2012, is a step in the right direction to bring about growth and development for the country.
"The region's companies are experiencing serious challenges in finding and retaining the employees they need to grow and succeed, therefore, the state of our youth in the region and the demand for qualified workers represent an obvious gap that require a multi-pronged approach," she declared.
"Today, Jamaica becomes the first English-speaking country and the 11th nation to join the regional programme. Needless to say, I am happy that Jamaica is now on board, and I am confident that we will soon begin to see the impact of this amazing project," she said.