PM credits fall in youth unemployment to empowerment

Prime Minister Andrew Holness (Photo: R. Fraser, JIS)

Prime Minister Andrew Holness is attributing the fall in youth unemployment to critical empowerment programmes, which have been implemented by the Government for young people.

“It is gratifying when you see the various statistics and metrics go in the right direction. One such metric would be the unemployment rate, and without question, we have increased employment in the country. But what I am particularly pleased about is that youth unemployment has fallen significantly,” he said.

The Prime Minister was opening the debate on the amendment to the Human Employment and Resource Training Act (2019) in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (October 29).

He said that among initiatives that have helped to lower youth unemployment, are the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) Programme and Jamaica National Service Corps (JNSC).

He further pointed to “expansion of the conventional training modalities for our young people in providing skills that are aligned to industry needs, which has reduced the friction in the labour market. So, persons who are properly trained find jobs more easily because their training aligns with the jobs that are available”.

The Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) recently reported that the unemployment rate for youth, aged 14 to 24, fell by two percentage points to 20.2 per cent, relative to July 2018.

The rate for male youth was 16.8 per cent compared to 17.3 per cent in July 2018, while the out-turn for females was 24.5 per cent, which was 3.8 per cent lower than the corresponding period last year.

Overall unemployment, as at July, held firm at a record low of 7.8 per cent, as was the case in the April 2019 Survey. The out-turn was 0.6 percentage points lower than the 8.4 per cent for July 2018.

HOPE, which was launched by the Prime Minister in 2017, targets persons aged 18 to 24, who are not employed or enrolled in a school or programme of training. It aims to build character and provide opportunities to develop employable skills.

The JNSC was also established in 2017 as part of the Government’s HOPE programme and aims to provide educational and job opportunities for young people.

The amendment to the Human Employment and Resource Training Act (2019) will give the necessary legal provision for the merger of the functions of the HEART Trust/NTA with the National Youth Service (NYS), the Apprenticeship Board and the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFFL).

The merger is consistent with the Public Sector Master Rationalisation Plan to create a more efficient and effective public service by the amalgamation of public bodies and agencies that share synergies of functions and resources.