The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is heaping praise on a project in Jamaica that is providing new ways to transfer cash to poor families in exchange for meeting certain conditions such as sending their children to school.
The IDB said for more than two decades, several Latin American and Caribbean countries have transferred cash to poor families under the programme that has improved the lives of millions of poor people.
"Today they are recognised as an effective tool to combat poverty and are used throughout the developing world," it said, noting, however, that "governments are looking for new ways to use the transfers to support poor families."
It said in the case of Jamaica, the island is looking to answer this question by testing an on-the-job training initiative specifically targeted to families that participate in its conditional cash transfer programme.
The pilot project, which is financed by the IDB, will subsidise up to three months of training in private firms for 1,500 beneficiaries and then track their ability to find suitable employment. The project also includes job and literacy training, entrepreneurship programmes, and job search workshops.
"The pilot programme is part of an ongoing project in Jamaica to improve the overall framework of its labour market policies. In particular, the IDB is working with Jamaica to enhance its electronic labour exchange and create new partnerships with business associations to better match job seekers with potential employers," the IDB said.
The IDB said that several studies have shown that on-the-job training has been quite effective in Latin America both in terms of creating new employment opportunities and increasing wages.
It said in the longest-running training programmes in the region, as many as 70 per cent of participants have found jobs and that such results are in line with independent impact evaluations from a range of on-the-job training and classroom-plus-internship training models in several parts of the world that report job placement rates from 50 to 70 per cent.
"In Latin America and the Caribbean, job training programmes have been most successful when they target high-growth sectors, are concentrated on urban areas, and use a national marketing programme to make firms aware of the training received by beneficiaries," the IDB said.
It said the proposed pilot in Jamaica will draw on these successful experiences and include an impact evaluation to measure employment and employability outcomes relative to those who do not benefit from the programme.
"Results from the pilot could well provide a path into the job market for millions of people in the future who currently have few options except to rely on government support," the IDB added.