Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer
As experts continue to paint a dismal picture for young people in the job market, the Ministry of Youth and Culture has introduced the Graduate Work Experience Programme, (GWEP) in a bid to assist tertiary graduates garner work experience for employment.
Minister of Youth and Culture, Lisa Hanna, who was speaking at a Gleaner Editors' Forum yesterday, sought to reassure persons that there is still hope, adding that lack of experience is a major obstacle to landing jobs.
"GWEP is giving those university students who have not been able to get a job for various reasons a sense of hope. We are giving them an opportunity to build their résumé, to get on the job training, and get themselves occupied. It's not a job, per se. It's an internship where one can garner experience," she said.
Melvin Smith, executive director at the National Youth Service (NYS), which is administering the programme, said it has not yet been fully rolled out, but said it will target many tertiary graduates.
SEVERAL PLACEMENT AREAS
"We all know the problem facing our graduates with the difficulty to get a job because they have no experience, so we created this initiative, starting with 11 young persons, placing them at the NYS in areas such as marketing, programme development, and research, among others," said Smith.
On Tuesday, key private-sector players predicted that approximately half of the 40,000 persons leaving high schools and universities this year may not find jobs.
"Most employers are either not hiring or not replacing people who are leaving," David Wan, president of the Jamaica Employers' Federation, said.
Yesterday, Hanna said her ministry is moving to assist graduates through GWEP, arguing that the programme will provide them with valuable work experience.
"We really want to impact those young people, whether they have some subjects or university degree, and we are tailoring projects using our increased budgets, along with job creation, building more community-based projects, and reaching as many youth as possible," Hanna said.
In the meantime, Smith said the NYS is evaluating GWEP with the aim of a big roll-out next year.
"We are saying to corporate Jamaica that here is an opportunity to employ competent and qualified graduates who can work for you, who would have garnered the necessary experience. Our hope is to assist as many youth [as we can] and give them an opportunity to create something for themselves," Smith said.