Regional

3,500 youths to start summer employment programme Monday

BY ALICIA SUTHERLAND
Observer staff reporter
sutherlanda@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, August 11, 2018

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Approximately 3,590 young people from across the island will on Monday embark on a six-week Ministry of Local Government and Community Development Youth Summer Employment Programme.

The programme, now in its second year, will see young people performing duties such as providing assistance in disaster risk management, as well as serving notices and other associated tasks in ensuring property tax payments and trade licences are up to date.

The number of participants increased by about 1,000, from roughly 2,500 participants last year.

Porfolio Minister Desmond McKenzie, at the programme's launch ceremony at Northern Caribbean University on Thursday, noted that there is also a boost in the remuneration package.

Last year's participants completed streetlight audits, identified the most vulnerable in communities, and collected data on missing street signs.

McKenzie said that particularly where the street lights are concerned, the ministry is already reaping the benefits of the data collected.

He said that through the programme it was revealed that about 35 per cent of street lights across the island, for which the Government was paying fees, were not working.

As the ministry moves to be more data-driven, the local government and community development minister said having the employment programme was also a step into a new era of local government.

“Never before has the Ministry of Local Government embarked on a programme specifically to employ young people in this country,” he said.

For the disaster risk management projects, the ministry has partnered with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management.

Shantoy Bennett, a programme participant from Portland, in a presentation at the ceremony, said the project was especially important at a time when the effects of climate change are more evident.

“…My parish is used to having rainfall all year round. This summer, however, we have been experiencing the worst drought I have ever seen since my tender age of living in Portland,” she said.

In the meantime, state minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information Floyd Green said that a key focus of his team is to form strategic alliances to ensure that young people are able to get the work experience required to enter the job market. He said, too, that his team is seeing significant results.

McKenzie said that provisions are in place to retain 200 of the best candidates, who will not be heading back to the classroom after the summer, to be employed until the end of the year.

One hundred and fifty will work with the disaster risk management programmes and 50, who are computer savvy, will be assigned to municipal corporations to input the data from the different audits completed in the summer programme.

He said that arrangements will be made with the security forces to allow participants in the summer programme access to the areas where there are zones of special operations.

The participants were urged by different speakers to make the most of the opportunity, and to be professional at all times.

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