THE EDITOR, Sir:
The issue of unemployment has plagued our society. Some argue that there are just not enough available jobs, while some employers say there are just not enough people trained or qualified to fill the vacancies available in their line of work.
Yet there are ministers who are fighting to spend on educating people to become employable and improve their standards of living, hence making Jamaica a better place.
There is a simple solution to all of these problems: educate people in fields where vacancies exist.
We need to take a practical approach to solving this problem. The answer we seek to patch the gap in providing jobs for our unattached youngsters is not in our universities and colleges.
We need to establish a strong apprenticeship programme that will allow our youngsters to learn a skill, earn a few dollars, and give them a sense of purpose and belonging.
Many of our youngsters have left high school without any subject or school-leaving certificate. They are demotivated and cannot afford to pay their way to acquire any further skill. If we could get our contractors to run an apprenticeship programme, where they can teach the skills of tiling, masonry and carpentry to these youngsters on the job, while providing them with a stipend, we would be well on our way to bridging the gap between the unskilled and the world of employment.
How do our ministers and leaders get involved in such a gesture? Yearly, several contracts are distributed by government agencies such as the National Housing Trust to contractors. The ministers could have members of parliament, especially in troubled areas, recruit young people who are interested in such a programme to register.
Difference will be made
The HEART Trust/NTA can be approached to conduct an on-the-job assessment to certify these personnel as they already have a programme where they certify individuals on the job.
Such a programme may not capture everyone. However, if we are able just to save 25 of our youths yearly, we would not be losing so many to guns and drugs.
Not only would they be earning, but we would be empowering them for future earnings. Even if after they have been trained and the very remote possibility that all are not gainfully employed, there is always the possibility that they could migrate. Jamaica would still benefit from remittances.
It will not cost the government a dime and surely does not require a corporation to manage it.
Let us help our youths to help themselves.
KALEHIA K. JOHNSON