Social Services Manager at the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), Gresford Bennett, says the entity has pumped more than $300 million into its Alternative Livelihood Skills Development Programme (ALSDP), which channels social interventions for unattached youth.
The ALSDP targets close to 6,000 youth in 18 underserved communities across seven parishes, and provides training in different areas, including event production, film, and digital animation.
They are drawn from St. Ann, Clarendon, St. James, Westmoreland, Kingston and St. Andrew, and St. Catherine.
The initiative is a component of the World Bank-funded Integrated Community Development Project (ICDP), which runs from 2014 to 2020.
The latest engagement to be initiated under the ALSDP is the Event Production Skills Training Programme, which was implemented by JSIF in partnership with the M-Academy, the training institute of the Main Event Entertainment Group, at a cost of $21 million.
The second cohort of 32 participants, from Western Jamaica, were presented with their certificates during a graduation ceremony at the Grandiosa Hotel in Montego Bay, St. James, on Monday (December 16).
Speaking at the ceremony, Bennett noted that the ALSDP is designed to create opportunities for meaningful employment for young people.
“The objective is to rapidly move young people from the corner of their homes to a training facility and to actually earn money,” he stated.
Bennett said the ALSDP is distinctly different from other training programmes in that it is structured to meet the needs of unattached youth in the 18 targeted underserved communities.
“You might ask why we would do a programme like this, given the existence of a national training agency? The answer lies in what we saw in 18 communities across seven parishes that the Integrated Community Development Programme was mandated to operate in – several young people with various levels of education and sometimes multiple engagement with various training programmes,” Bennett contended.
He added that JSIF found young people whom he described as “professional trainees”.
“[Due to] the stipend [involved], they try to attach themselves to a number of training programmes… and it just seemed as though the training [programmes were] becoming an occupation. We wanted to change that [hence the advent of the ALSDP],” Bennett said.
Some 106 young people from 18 inner-city communities across Jamaica have now benefited from the Event Production Skills Training Programme, since the initiative’s introduction in April 2019.