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JDF to train and certify youngsters out west

Published:Friday | July 12, 2019 | 12:25 AMAlbert Ferguson /Gleaner Writer

Western Bureau:

National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang says the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) will be taking control of the Flanker Training Institute (FTI) later this month and will train and certify some 60 young men from the community and other western parishes in driving, using a simulator.

“What we will be doing at this centre in the heart of Flankers is to install one of the vehicle-training simulators that we have at the Caribbean Maritime University. It is a very valuable piece of equipment, and you can certify drivers of articulated vehicles and heavy-duty equipment on that machine,” said Chang during a recent tour of the location. “The JDF will take charge of these facilities, in terms of footprints, on the 22nd of July.”

According to Chang, the young men should not have difficulties securing jobs after they are trained.

“There is a major demand for people who are trained in these kinds of operations, both locally and internationally, so you can get them into that type of training, which offers them job opportunities, gives them good-quality earnings,” said Chang.

The minister, who is also the member of parliament for St James North West, the constituency in which the FTI is located, said that while the driving simulator would cost approximately $60 million between construction and installation, he considered it a critical tool based on its capacity to change the mindset of the young men in the community.

“Having it (heavy-duty equipment training) being overseen by the JDF, you will begin to see changes in the behaviour pattern as well, which is what we need to do to ensure they not only get a good job but also be good ambassadors for Jamaica wherever they go,” said Chang

“It is already built; we have paid for it,” said Chang, who noted that the vehicle-training simulator was built by a company in California in the United States.

“It should be here in August in time to be installed in September. After that, we will move full speed ahead after that.”

While Flankers is located in a predominantly tourism area, which has the potential to generate high-paying jobs, Chang said the young men in the area are not showing any significant interest in securing jobs in that sector.

“The pull of the alternative culture in the community is still very strong, so we have to give them something that they are interested in, and the young men are not particularly keen on the room service and bartending that is now offered everywhere,” said Chang.

“We think we will be able to offer the young males in the western region a much better opportunity, and I am sure and confident they will take it up. We will have a lot of them coming here — some 60 throughout the year,” added Chang.