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Employment programme helps inner-city youth

Published:Wednesday | May 5, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The national security ministry has touted its Employment Internship Programme (EIP) for providing breakthrough job opportunities for unemployed young people from vulnerable and volatile communities.

The EIP, launched in 2008, engages partners in the public and private sector to employ youth for a specific period, after which they may be retained for full-time employment.

Organised under the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP), it aims to build self-esteem, reduce unemployment and curb the stigma attached to inner-city job seekers.

The EIP is implemented and funded by the CSJP. A similar EIP is coordinated by the CSJP with funding provided by the European Union's 10th European Development Fund under its Poverty Reduction Programme II.

The programme targets at-risk youth who have gained at least three subjects in local examinations. The youth are then interned in a real-life work situation at a local company or institution for a period of six months.

Those who are not employed have the option of accessing a CSJP scholarship to pursue studies in their areas of interest.

Supervision and mentoring

Under the programme, employers provide supervision and mentoring, while the employees are trained and paid a stipend by CSJP. At the end of each quarter, an assessment is conducted by the employer for each participant.

The project started with 32 participants and six companies, among them Churches Cooperative Credit Union, British Caribbean Insurance Company, the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, the Jamaica Stock Exchange and Ultimate Jamaica.

Since then, the list of companies has grown to include Guardian Life Insurance, IBM and the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency.

CSJP senior community action officer, Denise Adams, urged private- and public-sector companies to partner with the CSJP in providing internship opportunities for countless youth from volatile and vulnerable communities who possess the subjects and the aptitude for the workplace. Employers who are interested in partnering with the CSJP may call her at 906-4714.

She says the programme was introduced to reduce the frustration felt by young persons who, though educated, were unable to find jobs in the formal sector.

Another objective, she said, was to deter any potential involvement in criminal activity. She explained that educated, unattached youth, with their enhanced intelligence or particular skill sets, were often readily recruited by crime bosses, especially in inner-city areas.

She said the programme has had tremendous positive effects.

"The programme, I think, has helped because it has reduced stigmatisation of persons from inner-city communities. Some employers were still a bit apprehensive, and a few asked to do background checks (these were allowed in instances where background checks were standard for the companies and where sensitive information was a part of the company's work), but overall the programme was well received."