The Jamaica 4-H Clubs has embarked on a three-year entrepreneurship training programme as part of a move to reposition the organisation as an entity geared at empowering youth for meaningful employment.
Under the programme, young persons who successfully complete the training are assisted with capital inputs to start their own businesses.
Speaking with JIS News at the 10th annual Lauriston and Thompson Pen Stew Festival in St. Catherine on November 4, Executive Director of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, Ron Blake, informed that more than 540 persons have already been trained and plans are in place to increase the intake.
“We want to increase it, because the more young people we put to work, the more likely we are to reduce crime and violence, and the more likely we are to ensure that our young people are empowered. An empowered youngster is an asset to any country,” he said.
Close to 100 participants received training under the Rural Youth Economic Empowerment Programme (RYEEP), undertaken in collaboration with HEART Trust/NTA and the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ).
On completion, the participants were given inputs for agricultural enterprises, including crops, and small livestock such as chicken, pigs and goats, to jumpstart their businesses.
Additionally, this year the Jamaica 4-H Clubs rolled out a $64-million programme with the Sugar Transformation Unit in which 365 youngsters were trained and certified in small engine repairs, tractor operation, and commercial meal preparation.
Mr. Blake explained that the Jamaica 4-H Clubs views entrepreneurship as a major part of the solution to the challenge of youth unemployment, bearing in mind “that young people are three times more likely to be unemployed than the average Jamaican citizen”.
He pointed out that youth unemployment is approximately three times the annual rate and that “80 per cent of the crime and violence committed in this country is committed by people classified as youth”.
He appealed to corporate Jamaica to provide financial and other resources to help the 4-H Clubs in its mission to help transform communities, to bolster opportunities that are already emerging for them to create their own employment.
“We believe that we can grow Jamaica with our young people, and so we say that the young people are not our future. They are now, and we have to do everything to ensure that they are engaged; and that’s the mission that we are on,” the Executive Director said.
Photo: Dave Reid