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PM seeks HOPE expansion

Thursday, February 13, 2020

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Prime Minister Andrew Holness says that up to 50,000 unattached youth and volunteers for his HOPE (Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment) programme could benefit from private sector support for the programme.

“I will be meeting with members of the private sector tomorrow (Friday, February 14) to see how they can come on board, to create opportunities for employment and engagement for young people,” the Prime Minister told a press briefing at Jamaica House today.

“The government will provide training and the supervision. I can't make any promise on the stipend, but the private sector can help us with the stipend and opportunities in the area of work,” he added.

Holness said that the government had taken the decision to go for private sector support to beef up the programme which was created to assist so-called “unattached” youth, between 18 and 24 years old, who are not employed or enrolled in a school, or a programme of training.

“The volunteer aspect of the programme is now being rolled out, so you could take it to say that this is not really the launch, but we are explaining to the public what is to come and where the programme is, as we speak,” he added.

“If they come on board in this first year, we could recruit two to three thousand more youths, which could eventually lead to the engagement of about 50,000 per year. That would truly put a dent in the whole business of (dealing with) unattached youngsters,” he said.

However, he argued that, in order to reach that 50,000 figure the volunteer aspect, which is now being rolled into the programme, would have to increase, immensely.

He said that in the future the government would wish to see young people who have graduated but cannot find jobs, and who want to give back and, in meantime, learn a skill and gain the experience, allow the country to harness the great potential that exists but needs to be co-ordinated.

“You will hear more about this in the days to come, and certainly when I make my budget presentation in even more detail,” he said

Other speakers at the briefing included the national coordinator of the HOPE programme, Colonel Martin Rickman; managing director of HEART NTA, Dr Janet Dyer; Special Projects Manager, Diandra Barrett; and, scholarship recipient, Sebastien Lawrence, who spoke on behalf of the youth.