JIS: The National Youth Service (NYS) has expanded its Empowerment Programme to reach young people with all forms of disabilities.
Previously, the initiative was targeted at persons with mild intellectual disabilities but this year, it will be open to some 360 persons, aged 17 to 34, with various disabilities. Persons within this target group have until March 31 to apply.
The Empowerment Programme aims to provide the tools and opportunities to improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities and increase their participation in and contribution to society by strengthening their capacities and improving their preparation for the labour force.
Speaking at a JIS Think Tank on Tuesday (March 13), Director of Communications and Marketing at NYS, Julia Smiley Green, noted that the expansion will allow an additional 240 persons to participate.
She said the programme will last for seven months, consisting of a three-week non-residential camp, followed by six months of supported work experience.
Participants in the camp will “undergo a series of training, mentoring and coaching that will make them more job-ready, employable and improve their personal and professional development,” Mrs. Smiley Green said.
Throughout the programme, the beneficiaries will be guided by a job coach, who will cater to their general needs and ensure that they are assisted to make the transition to the world of work.
Mrs. Smiley Green said that the job coaches will be responsible for ensuring that the participants get the personal and professional development training that they need.
“So we look at topics such as how they can manage their finances how it is they can make themselves more employable, how they should behave in the workplace, dress and deportment, and general skills that these young persons will need to help them to acclimatise themselves to the workplace,” she pointed out.
The job coaches and parish field officers will help the participants to identify their interests and skills during camp, after which they will secure placement opportunities to match their abilities.
They will also assist participants in exploring career development opportunities and programmes, individualised career pathways, as well as determine their readiness for the workplace.
On completion of the camp, the participants will undertake their six-month job placement.
During the first week of assignment, the job coaches will accompany participants to their placement and help them to get settled into the new environment, including understanding their tasks.
The parish field officers and job coaches will create and maintain a relationship with the employers and participants, conducting biweekly monitoring.
“We encourage our placement partners to allow these participants, despite their disabilities, to be fully engrossed in the workplace. We understand that they may need to be more closely supervised than the average worker within the workplace, but we want our partners to be reminded that they, too, have a meaningful contribution to make, and all they need is that opportunity to showcase their talents and skills,” Mrs. Smiley Green said.
In addition to completing an application form, persons are required to submit copies of their birth certificate, a referral from an institution to which they are attached, tax registration number (TRN), and National Insurance Scheme (NIS) number.
For more information on the programme, persons may visit any HEART Trust/NTA, Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFFL) or NYS office or call 1-888-432-7868.
CAPTION: Director of Communications and Marketing at the National Youth Service (NYS), Julia Smiley Green, highlights the various programmes being undertaken by the agency, at a JIS Think Tank on March 13.