My task this morning is to welcome you all to King’s House for the launch of the New Employment Opportunities (NEO) for Youth in Jamaica project. Your presence this morning assures me that there are entities and individuals with whom I can resonate in my passion for youth development. Indeed, you help to place in perspectives my own I Believe Initiative (IBI) which is fully committed to opening up pathways for young people to aspire, achieve their goals and do their part in national development.
I have read that Latin American and Caribbean youth between the ages of 15 and 29, number at 148 million; 32 million of whom are said to neither study nor work and another 50 million being ‘at risk’ of being relegated to the margins of society.
Many of us are conversant with the Jamaican situation, where the youth are said to be the most frequent perpetrators and victims of crime and violence.
Youth and Development
YUTE which is the parent body for NEO has since 2010 been on the trajectory to changing that reality via providing successful vocational skills and life training opportunities for youngsters who are labeled “unattached.” For the successful implementation, mentorship, evaluation and permanent employment that the participants now hold, ladies and gentlemen, YUTE ought to be highly commended!
I also want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the various stakeholders of this project. It is said that vision without action is just a dream. Action without vision merely passes time. But vision with action can change the world! And that you are poised to do through this programme known as NEO. Indeed, this pioneering alliance in which businesses, governments and civil society join forces to provide resources, knowledge, and capacities in order to implement efficient and sustainable youth employment solutions is one of the applications to help fix what is wrong with Jamaica.
One of Jamaica’s social anthropologist, Dr. Herbert Gayle in commenting on the potential of young people, states that, “Jamaica is a major cultural capital in the world. We have developed one of the most powerful youth cultures globally, which young people around the world desire to emulate.” I want to agree with Dr. Gayle in this regard, because this bolsters the point that the youth cannot be a ‘blind spot’ in nation building/development. We do that to our own peril.
Through my annual Youth Consultative Conferences (which is part of the IBI) usually held in October a conduit is provided for the young people to ‘sound-off”, share their views and propose recommendations for nation building. At these conferences I hear ‘first hand’ the passion and interest that young people have in the direction the country is going and how they wish to be engaged.
They do not want to sit on the sidelines; they want to get involved.
This initiative being launched this morning, is poised to address many of the issues with which our young people are confronted. YUTE has the mandate to help empower young Jamaicans with positive grooming, training, mentoring and effective preparation for life through career-relevant apprenticeship. Do not become weary in doing what we must do.
In this new Twitter world of microblogs and 140 characters, I know that my time is up.
Welcome everyone, enjoy and be inspired!