Joseph Matalon, chairman of the Development Bank of Jamaica, has called on the private sector to support organisations working to better the lives of the underserved, especially youth in the inner-city communities. Speaking on Wednesday at a 'Pledge Breakfast' hosted by the St Patrick's Foundation at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel, Matalon praised the foundation for their skills training and welfare programmes in areas like Olympic Gardens, Tower Hill, and Seaview Gardens.
But, Matalon noted, the economic challenges of today have resulted in reduced funding support for organisations like St Patrick's that, "are critical to the fight against poverty, the creation of self-reliance and the integration into society of the underserved in a meaningful way ".
Pointing to recent national statistics that put current youth unemployment rates at 38 per cent, Matalon said that the average is even higher in the inner city and can be as high as 60 per cent. What's more, he said, a USAID study in 2011, which reported 200,000 "unattached youth" in Jamaica (not in any form of education programme or unemployed), revealed that 60 per cent of these were "unemployable" - lacking basic academics or training, vocational qualifications or the life/social skills to be integrated into the world of work.
Matalon said the situation called for "strong social intervention from the private sector" It's not what we traditionally think of as charity, it's survival! Decent education equals decent jobs. If we continue to pay lip service to the notion that the youth are our future and not make the investment in our youth, then we condemn ourselves to a permanent state of underdevelopment and lacklustre growth" Matalon declared.
He made an impassioned plea for donors for St Patrick's Foundation: "pay the annual salary for one teacher, sponsor the operations of a particular department, give assistance in kind if you don't have cash. If you support the St Patrick's Foundation, you will make a difference in the lives of those who have no alternatives and whom we have a responsibility to save", Matalon said.