Gareth Davis Sr, Port Antonio, Portland:
Located at the old Railway building in Port Antonio, Portland, which underwent major rehabilitation, the Portland Youth Information Centre (PYIC) is touching the lives of youngsters from some of the most depressed communities in the parish and affecting their lives.
The centre, which is a programme of the National Youth Information Centre, is actively engaged in youth empowerment at the community level, where youth are able to access the various offerings at the facility, including the computer lab, sports facility, and a music band.
"We facilitate the schools and the youths on the street," said Dowell Williams, a youth empowerment officer at that facility.
He added: "The response is overwhelming, and since our inception, we have had persons coming in off the street and blending in, while capitalising on the various opportunities, which are offered free of cost.
On average, we have approximately 75 persons accessing this facility daily, including students and the unattached youths. We also offer skills training and certification in bartending and food and beverage."
According to Williams, between March and July of this year, the centre trained 450 unattached youth across the parish who are now certified in food and beverage and bartending under the Diageo Learning for Life programme. This programme is in collaboration with Red Stripe and Bars to Go Training Academy.
Williams continued, "At the end of October 2013, we will be training an additional 300 youths in three different courses - customer service, cashiering, and merchandising. This is also free of cost and the age group for persons is 18 to 30 years.
Each student gets a scholarship from Red Stripe. On a normal day, it would cost $50,000 to do the programme at Bars to Go in Kingston, outside of the Diageo Learning Center, but through a collaborative effort among Red Stripe, Bars to Go, and the National Youth Information Centre, such programmes are offered free in Portland."
Coupled with the certification, persons can acquire a certificate of competence by completing the exam offered by Heart Trust National Training Agency, which would allow them to ply their trade in more than 70 countries worldwide. Additionally, certificates acquired through Bars to Go Academy qualify persons to work locally and elsewhere in the Caribbean.
The PYIC also collaborates with Heart Trust/NTA which is offering an on-the-job training programme in computer repairs. Level 2, with 25 youth are being trained in the field.