Some 1,200 unemployed and underemployed youth between the ages of 17 and 34, are set to benefit from a special IDB Lab programme aimed at strengthening economic opportunities and enhancement of their digital, business, and interpersonal skills. Youth will also access job opportunities through highly practical project-based learning and employability skills enabling them to function as independent workers and social entrepreneurs.
“Jamaica has a plethora of talent which needs to be channeled into productive activities. Strengthening the digital and interpersonal skills of unemployed and underemployed youth with low incomes, as well as aligning them with job opportunities and entrepreneurship, will go a far way in easing the frustration which they are currently experiencing,” said Therese Turner-Jones, IDB Jamaica Country Representative and General Manager for the Caribbean Country Department.
Jamaica, which has made great progress and economic reforms in recent years after a long period of instability, has seen the pandemic undermine much of its economic activity and foreign exchange, mainly from tourism. The impact on companies, together with rapid technological advancements have made it challenging for some companies to keep pace and provide the requisite training to their workforce. This has aggravated the socioeconomic risk of young people, exacerbated inequalities, and contributed to higher unemployment.
The programme will be funded with IDB investment of US $800,000 through a non-refundable technical cooperation. It will be executed by the non-profit entity, The Trust for the Americas, which, in association with Microsoft, Citi and NCB Foundations, will invest more than US $1,000,000 in financial and in-kind resources.
“We are specially targeting vulnerable communities. Women are undergoing severe challenges and hardship in the wake of the pandemic. We are working to have at least 50 % young women become beneficiaries under the programme,” explained Turner-Jones.
The programme aims to increase the productivity of SMEs and the sectors that present the greatest challenges and opportunities for innovation. These include tourism, manufacturing, and food processing.
The program will also assist youth with career guidance and preparation services for interviews, self-employment as well as entrepreneurship support such as mentorship. Job placement services will connect beneficiaries with small and medium-sized enterprises. It is expected that the project will be replicated in other Caribbean countries.