Sat | Dec 4, 2021

New lease on life for Rose Town

Youth to learn skills in internship, rebuild community

Published:Monday | March 15, 2021 | 12:18 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
Children are seen playing off road of Duff Street in Rose Town on Sunday. The  Rose Town and Gore Family foundations have launched a construction internship project for youths aged 16 to 24.
Children are seen playing off road of Duff Street in Rose Town on Sunday. The Rose Town and Gore Family foundations have launched a construction internship project for youths aged 16 to 24.
Dean Gibbs, project officer of the Rose Town Foundation.
Dean Gibbs, project officer of the Rose Town Foundation.
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Twenty at-risk youths from Rose Town, Kingston, will be given a second chance at becoming “confident and independent” Jamaicans when they commence training in a construction internship programme, come April.

The programme, which was launched last Thursday, is a project of the Phillip and Christine Gore Family Foundation in partnership with the Rose Town Foundation.

Christine Gore, an attorney-at-law, said while the foundation’s primary focus is early-childhood education, it remained mindful of the thousands of at-risk youth in Jamaica who desperately need help.

“The breakdown of our education system produces these children who are undereducated and are unable to earn a living,” she said.

As at October 2020, Jamaica’s youth unemployment rate stood at 27.8 per cent, almost three times the national average of 10.7 per cent.

Gore said that most of Jamaica’s inner-city communities are “drowning in gang violence,” making at-risk youths vulnerable to recruitment into a life of crime.

“We are hoping that with this programme, we will save some of these youths from that dead-end future. That future leads them nowhere, other than to an early grave,” Gore reasoned.

The programme will target females and males aged 16 to 24.

Courses will be taught in masonry, carpentry, plumbing, electrical studies, garden design and painting, outdoor recreation, waste management, and construction safety, among other areas.

Critical importance

Additionally, interns will receive soft-skills training that will be of critical importance for their entry into the labour force.

Gore outlined that participants will be tested on literacy and numeracy skills, but the results will not be disqualifiers.

Instead, it will inform the approach that needs to be taken to address the weaknesses that emerge.

“There will be students who can read and write and use the computer, working side by side with students who can’t, and nobody will know.

“We develop their self-confidence in this way. They put on headphones and the computer is addressing the exact weakness that they have,” said Gore of the computer-assisted instruction.

Meanwhile, project officer at the Rose Town Foundation, Dean Gibbs, who has resided in the community all his life, has welcomed the initiative.

“We will have more skilled people in the community versus a drove of labourers, based on their lack of skills in the respective fields,” he said.

Gibbs shared that urban blight is evident in the community and the foundation is doing its best to empower youths through education and capacity-building.

The 33-year-old told The Gleaner that the community is very tense because of sporadic gun violence.

“Persons are clustered in a certain area and that is a good recipe for contention. You have five or six different families living in one premises, while there are acres of open land in other areas of the community,” he explained.

One of the Rose Town Foundation’s oldest projects, a land tenure programme, helps residents to get legal possession of property where they reside or at selected areas in the community.

Gibbs added that on completion, the youngsters will be an asset to the community as they seek to rebuild Rose Town’s housing stock and improve overall quality of life.

judana.murphy@gleanerjm.com