Youths seek HOPE - Thousands apply for summer work programme
More than 16,000 youths applied for the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) summer programme this year, exceeding the target that was initially set for the placement of young people in temporary jobs during the summer holiday.
The programme, which is managed by the National Youth Service (NYS), allows those between the ages of 17 and 29 to gain job experience for three weeks during the months of June, July and August.
Director of communications and marketing at the NYS, Julia Smiley Green, said the target was to place 14,500 youths in jobs this year.
"This programme is an expanded version of the NYS summer programme resulting from the operational merger of the National Youth Service, The Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning, the Apprenticeship Board and HEART Trust/NTA which took effect on April 1, 2017," Smiley Green told The Sunday Gleaner.
"Benefits of the expanded programme include certification as well as a substantial increase in the number of young people impacted by the programme," she added.
According to Smiley Green, the participants have been placed in various government ministries, departments and agencies as well as in the private sector.
"We advertised for placement sites and all registered businesses are welcome to be placement sites for our work experience programmes which are not limited to the HOPE youth summer work experience programme," said Smiley Green.
The summer work experience programme is just one aspect of the HOPE training and apprenticeship initiative which was launched by Prime Minister Andrew Holness in May last year.
The programme is targeted towards persons between the ages of 18 to 24 who are unemployed or are not attached to a school or training programme. There is an estimated 130,000 unattached youths in Jamaica.
Smiley-Green said there have been a few challenges in recruiting young people for the summer programme so far.
"Many of them are not holders of commercial bank accounts, which is a requirement to facilitate payment of their stipends. In addition, we also find a number of them tend to not have other required documents such as taxpayer registration number, government-issued identification cards and birth certificates," she said.
"However, to mitigate these challenges, we have forged partnerships with various financial institutions and government agencies that provide these services to assist eligible applicants with acquiring the required documents," Smiley-Green explained.