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USAID-Funded Skills Training and Employment Programme to Benefit At-Risk Youth


JIS: Jamaica is among three countries in the Latin America and Caribbean region that are benefiting from a Regional Workforce Development Programme (RWDP) aimed at boosting skills training and employment for at-risk youth.


The programme is being implemented over five years through US$35 million in funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).


The objective is to provide the youth with upgraded and market-relevant skills and competencies, in order for them to obtain new or better employment and/or have greater opportunity for career advancement.


Speaking at the launch at the Montego Bay Convention Centre on Thursday (March 2), Region Three Director in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Karlene Segre, said that the intervention is timely and relevant.


Ms. Segre, who represented State Minister, Hon. Floyd Green, welcomed the focus on skills training for at-risk youth, noting that it “fits in very well with the Government’s efforts to get our young people better prepared for the labour market”.


She noted that the Government is proactively seeking to tackle the problem of youth unemployment and skills deficiencies through various initiatives, including the Upskilling and Retooling programme being undertaken by the HEART Trust/NTA and the Joint Committee for Tertiary Education (JCTE).


“We hope that through this progranmme, we will be able to train 3,000 persons annually as skilled. Make no mistake, without a skilled labour force, Jamaica will be left behind as the world sprints forward,” she pointed out.


Education Team Leader at the USAID’s Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, Karen Towers, said she is delighted that the programme was being launched in Jamaica.


 She expressed confidence that the beneficiaries will make use of the opportunity to excel.


Ms. Towers noted that the programme has been receiving significant support from students in Guatemala and Honduras, where it is already in operation.


She said USAID programmes have contributed to worldwide efforts to reduce poverty and create opportunities in health, economic growth, environment and governance and democracy


The RWDP aims to strengthen the capacity of two- and three-year technical training institutions in the region to provide market-relevant quality training to youth from disadvantaged populations.


It will improve curriculum design, pedagogy, and professional development for faculty and staff, and enhance labour market bridging services to help students find gainful employment after graduating.


The programme will also strengthen recruiting and admissions practices and provide local and US-based scholarships for disadvantaged students with strong leadership potential.


CAPTION: Region Three Director in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Karlene Segre, addresses the launch of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Regional Workforce Development Programme at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, St. James on Thursday, March 2.