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Defence Act to be Amended to Establish National Service Corps

The House of Representative discussing the Defence Act

Photo: The House of Representative.

The Defence Act is being amended to establish the Jamaica National Service Corps within the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF).

The Corps is one of seven under the Government’s Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) initiative, targeting job and training opportunities for unattached young people aged 19 to 24.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, who announced HOPE’s launch during his 2017/18 Budget Debate presentation in the House on March 21, said the amendment would make provisions for enlistment and the terms of this undertaking in the Jamaica National Service Corps.

This engagement will complement the JDF’s recently launched National Service Enlistment Programme, which will target the annual recruitment of 1,000 young people, aged 18 to 23.

“Normally, the enlistment under the Jamaica Defence Force would be between 200 and 300. We have expanded this, and what will happen is that they will register and train for one year. From the pool that is trained, the best will be selected to join the army,” Mr. Holness explained.

He said those not selected will have the option of joining the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) or becoming security guards, “because they would have effectively met the training requirements and would automatically qualify”.

“So, effectively, what we are doing is using the capacity of the Jamaica Defence Force to bring in our young men, especially, and give them the kind of disciplined, regimented training that they need at that stage to ensure that they become functional citizens,” the Prime Minister explained.

Meanwhile, Mr, Holness said that against the background of Jamaica’s challenges with crime and violence, it is an opportune time for the introduction of a national service for young people.

The newly reconstituted Human Employment and Resource Training Trust/National Training Agency (HEART Trust/NTA) will have responsibility for creating a universal system of institutional attachment for the target age cohort under the HOPE initiative.

This will entail the development of a comprehensive national corps service system that will involve skills training through apprenticeship work programmes, personal development and responsibility, and citizenship and volunteerism.

The seven service corps areas include document management and digitisation; environment management; geographic information systems; infrastructure and construction; registration, verification and audit; hospitality; and the national service enlistment programme.

The new entity will be a merger of HEART Trust/NTA, the National Youth Service (NYS), Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL) and Apprenticeship Board.

Mr. Holness said it is anticipated that work opportunities will be created for a minimum of 25,000 young persons by the end of the 2017/18 fiscal year.

Article by: Douglas McIntosh
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