Tue | Nov 30, 2021

Call for more young men to access SEP benefit

Published:Monday | October 18, 2021 | 12:05 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer
Sylvester Anderson
Sylvester Anderson


Sylvester Anderson, coordinator of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security’s Education and Entrepreneurship Grants Programme, wants councillors in the St James Municipal Corporation (StJMC) to direct potential applicants in their divisions, particularly males, to the ministry’s Special Employment Programme (SEP).

Addressing Thursday’s monthly meeting of the StJMC, Anderson said that there are not enough applicants for the SEP in St James, despite his office having made a few job placements at reputable establishments through the programme.

“The SEP is an initiative aimed specifically at unemployed or underemployed persons whose access to the prevailing social safety net mechanism is extremely limited. Where St James is concerned, we had a few placements here, including at AquaSol, Wexford Court Hotel, and Hosanna Preparatory School, but this is one of the parishes where, for some strange reason, we are not having the turnout that we would like,” said Anderson.

“What I want you to do is to find some applicants for me, specifically where the SEP is concerned, and particularly the males. We understand the challenge with the young men, so let us see how we can try and get some of those young men to lead them to a better life,” Anderson urged the councillors.

However, Michael Troupe, councillor for the Granville division, raised some concern about the effectiveness of the programme, saying he had recommended two youngsters for the programme who did not get the required assistance.

“A year ago, there were two unattached youth in my division who said they want to start earning for themselves, and they wanted two weed-whackers. I submitted all their documents to the National Insurance Scheme, and up till now they did not call them back for a second interview,” said Troupe.

“Most of the time we send requests to assist at-risk youth, but you have to keep calling and calling, and never get through. We want to know that when we find those youth and recommend them to you, and you interview them, that you will give them a timeline when they can get through,” said Troupe.

In response to Troupe, Anderson said that not all applicants will get through, as only those who fit the requirements for the SEP will be considered for the assistance on offer.

“Once you are able to identify the persons, give me a call and I will see how we can deal with them. Not all the persons who say they want to do something can be assisted, but once their information comes to me, and they fit the bill, I do not see why we will not be able to assist them,” said Anderson.

The SEP and the Education and Entrepreneurship Grants Programme are two activities that fall under the Ministry of Labour’s Social Intervention Programme. Both initiatives provide beneficiaries with assistance to enable and foster greater levels of independence.

The objectives of the SEP include introducing individuals between the ages of 18 and 35 years to the working world and equipping them with marketable skills for long-term employment. The programme also seeks to promote economic opportunities and employment for unemployed or underemployed groups.