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Govt must restart the HEART National Unattached Youth Programme

Govt must restart the HEART National Unattached Youth Programme

Kingston, November 2, 2016. Member of Parliament for South East St Andrew Julian Robinson has called for the Government to indicate when it will resume the HEART NTA National Underserved/Unattached Youth Programme (NUYP), citing the positive impact it had on young people across the country in its first year of operation. “Everyone benefitted. For thousands of youths who were out of school, out of a job and vulnerable to getting mixed up in crime or other anti social behaviour, this programme brought hope, and it allowed them to build both their skills and their self esteem,” said Robinson, indicating that a total of 155 from his constituency participated in the programme.

Robinson commended HEART which instituted the NUYP, as well as his fellow MPs, 32 of whom took advantage of the opportunity to enroll their constituents, for contributing to its success. “This was not a partisan programme: we all had the opportunity to refer constituents, and at the end of the programme, data from HEART showed that roughly half the participants came from JLP constituencies, and half from PNP,” Robinson said. The NUYP offered stipended remedial education, skills training, and apprenticeships to youths aged 17 – 30 who are not in a job or studying. A total of 3,877 youths across the island were registered in the NUYP, which started in 2015 and ran until early 2016.

Of the 155 enrolled from his constituency, Robinson pointed out, 47 were given workforce readiness training and placed in one year apprenticeships with Sutherland Global Services, where they received real life work experience; 47 were placed in training programs at the International University of the Caribbean doing Food & Beverage and Data Operations; and 61 were placed in training programs at Cornerstone Ministries doing auto mechanics and Data Operations. On completing the year-long training, participants gained NVQJ Level 2 certification.

“Critically, many of those who completed the programme went on to either get full time jobs, or to return to education or training, but either way, for one year we got thousands of youths off the streets and into productive endeavours,” said Robinson, adding that all MPs should insist that the NUYP be restarted. Since early 2016, HEART has suspended the NUYP, with no indication of whether or when it will be restarted. That, said Robinson, was a major mistake.

“If we are serious about tackling crime and correcting the main social ills that affect us as a nation, we must be serious about tackling the problem at its root cause. Crime is highest among youths with nothing doing. If we offer these youths opportunity, we can keep them from ever going down that path,” the MP said.