National Commitment Needed to Reduce Youth Unemployment

Date Published: 
Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Youth and Culture Minister Honourable Lisa Hanna says there is an urgent need for a national commitment to dealing with joblessness among Jamaican youth. She says the 2012 rate of 32.2% youth unemployment which represents a small improvement is still too high and needs to be in line with international and regional trends.  She called for a unified approach to tacking the problem urging that this is not the time to take party or sectoral positions. “The issue of Youth unemployment is so serious that our country cannot afford to be divided along political, community, sector, church or media lines in tackling the problem. The answer requires a national commitment and united action”, Minister Hanna said.

Minister  Hanna was speaking at Tuesday’s (January 15)  launch of a booklet “Services for Urban Youth”. The booklet is a product of the Youth Upliftment Through Employment (YUTE) project. It is a resource publication for young people aimed at giving information on accessing a range of services and protecting their rights.  The Minister commended the YUTE Secretariat at Development Options Limited and the CHASE Fund for the collaborative effort in producing the booklet. She says it should be required reading for all young people as they transition to the world of work.

Meanwhile, Minister Hanna says the Government’s response to the youth joblessness has included the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme, which created 15,000 jobs created in its first phase and targets 35,000 persons in the second phase. At the same time she said some 40,000 Jamaicans could gain employment in the private sector, through the establishment of the job-seekers registry at the Ministry of Labour along with the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce.

She said the National Centre of Youth Development in the Ministry of Youth and Culture will be continuing its programme of youth entrepreneurship training which helps “youth on the corner” to start businesses. After a period of training they are provided with business start-up financial grants.  The Ministry will also be meeting with representatives of the World Bank to start the planning the expansion of the Digital Jam E-business creation project.  In June last year, with the Assistance of the World Bank, the Ministry staged the Digital Jam 2.0 virtual economy expo in Kingston which saw thousands of young persons from all over Jamaica exposed to training, mentorship and internships in computer-based business opportunities. Some 2,000 youth are now engaged in various ICT based income generating projects coming out of Digital Jam.