Some 1,200 unemployed and underemployed youth, aged 17 to 34, will benefit from a special IDB Lab programme that aims to provide them with more economic opportunities through the development of digital, business, and interpersonal skills.
“We are specially targeting vulnerable communities…”— Therese Turner-Jones, country representative and general manager for the Caribbean Country Department, Inter-American Development Bank
According to a release from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the programme will focus on improving the youths’ access to job opportunities through highly practical project-based learning and employability skills that enable them to function as independent workers and social entrepreneurs.
“Jamaica has a plethora of talent which needs to be channelled 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,” Therese Turner-Jones, IDB Jamaica country representative and general manager for the Caribbean Country Department, stated.
The programme will benefit from US $800,000 in funding from IDB as part of a non-refundable technical cooperation. Non-profit entity The Trust for the Americas willoversee the execution of the programme in association with Microsoft, Citi and NCB Foundations, which will invest more than US $1 million in financial and in-kind resources.
Jamaica has made great progress and economic reforms in recent years after a long period of instability; however, the COVID-19 pandemic has undermined much of the economic gains, including foreign exchange earnings from tourism.
Moreover, the impact on companies along 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.
“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 per cent young women become beneficiaries under the programme,” Turner-Jones explained.
In addition, the programme aims to increase the productivity of SMEs and the sectors that present the greatest challenges and opportunities for innovation, such tourism, manufacturing, and food processing.
Another focus of the IDB programme will be assisting Jamaican youth with career guidance and preparation services for interviews, self-employment as well as entrepreneurship support such as mentorship. Job placement services will connect participants with small and medium-sized enterprises.
The IDB plans to replicate the project in other Caribbean countries.