Scores of youth in West Central St. Catherine are being empowered with employable and entrepreneurial skills under the HEART Trust/NTA National Unattached Youth Programme (NUYP).
The community-based training programme, now in its third year in the constituency, was initiated by Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, who is the Member of Parliament, with support from other stakeholder partners.
They include West Central Hope, and the Kitson Town Community Development Committee (CDC).
The programme offers opportunities for training and certification for unattached youth, aged 17 to 30, in Early Childhood Education, Allied Nursing, Web Page Design, Housekeeping, General Construction, Business Administration, among other vocations, by HEART Trust/NTA, with training lasting between six and nine months.
More than 200 youngsters who recently graduated from the programme have praised the organisers for initiating the undertaking, which they say has changed the lives of many beneficiaries since its roll-out.
“I am a proud beneficiary of this programme. Two years ago, all I had was a dream. That dream has now been partially fulfilled… as I have further to go. Because of this programme, I am a certified employee,” stated past student, Daider Queenborough, during the graduation ceremony at the Kitson Town Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church.
“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from; the ability to triumph begins with you. This is the start… life has no limitation”— Daider Queenborough, certified in Allied Nursing
Ms Queenborough, who attained certification in Allied Nursing, is among the programme’s first graduates.
She pointed out that consequent on this, she is now able to finance her children’s education while boasting none of them has been absent from school since she started working.
“This programme has drastically changed my life. I am grateful to Dr. Tufton and every single person who had a hand in this programme,” she said.
Ms Queenborough encouraged newly enrolled programme participants to remain focused, as “this is the beginning of an amazing future”.
It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from; the ability to triumph begins with you. This is the start… life has no limitation,” she added.
Chairman of the CDC, Devon Thompson, describes the overall undertaking as “significant”.
‘The community is now providing a space for persons to get further development in training… and being employable [adds] value to the area, when training is taking place like that in the community,” he tells JIS News.
According to Mr Thompson, the programme’s life skills component is a first for the community, and he encouraged the beneficiaries to “use the opportunity, to not only seek jobs but to further their skills”.
“I have to give them thanks for giving me this chance of getting myself certified as a skilled person”— Junior Bailey, certified in general construction
Another graduate, Junior Bailey, who did general construction and had returned to the classroom as a student for the first time since 1993, says attending the ceremony with his mother in the audience, was “overwhelming” for him, her and the wider family, adding that he is forever grateful for the opportunity.
“I feel good that I finished this course. I got this chance through HEART, and I have to give them thanks for giving me this chance of getting myself certified as a skilled person,” he shares.
Mr Bailey invites community members to pursue skills training with a view to being certified.
“It (the programme) is here to help the youth [by] taking us off the streets. It is a good move, and I appreciate it very much,” he said.
For Johnoy Cameron, a web page designer graduate, attaining HEART Trust/NTA certification is a “joy” which will enable him to expand and utilise his skills in income generation, and to pass on the knowledge he has gained to other persons.
He also praises his employers, LASCO Manufacturing, for facilitating him with the time to study.
“I am happy that they gave me the opportunity to finish the programme because not many companies would do that,” he states while encouraging other youth to embrace the NUYP training.
“Give it a try and get yourself a skill, because most companies or organisations are looking for skilled workers, and it can make you more marketable,” he says.
Mother of one, Trishania Jackson Taylor, whose future seemed bleak three years ago, is equally effusive in her praise.
Having left school three years prior to the training opportunity coming to Kitson Town, Ms Jackson Taylor spent many days wondering when her financial state would change.
On hearing about the training, she gladly took up the last slot in the Early Childhood Education programme and obtained employment at a school one month after completing her training.
For the past year, Ms Jackson Taylor has been jointly operating a school with her mother, as also a daycare facility that she operates on her own.
She says that she is “proud, grateful, and elated to God, to Dr Tufton, to my parents, and those who supported me through the entire journey”.
Meanwhile, HEART Trust/NTA Managing Director, Dr Janet Dyer, describes the NUYP as “a great starting point for work-life”.
I have the pleasure of seeing [an] excellent learning environment and staff in action. I have been privy to have our youth share stories of how they came to make critical decisions in their education journey,” she stated in a speech delivered at the graduation by the agency’s Marketing and Communication Director, Julia Smiley Green.
Classes for the programme are held on weekdays at the Kitson Town Community Resource Centre, and the Tacious Golding High School, Brown’s Hall, in St. Catherine.