Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who was speaking at the launch of a ship repair facility in Harbour View, St Andrew on Tuesday (January 24), says the Government is set to develop an apprenticeship programme in the next few months to target unattached youths.
Holness said: “It always hurts me to see our young men, many of them with great potential, just idling away, getting involved in nonsense and we lose the potential that they have, the skills that they have, and they will never understand there are place on earth to make a contribution, to add value, not to take away value, not to be a dead bate loss to society.”
He also noted that the Government will restore the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) programme, which was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The HOPE programme was launched in 2017 by the prime minister to provide educational and job opportunities to persons between the ages of 18 and 24 who are unemployed or enrolled in an educational institution.
Decline in unemployment
The prime minister further noted that, while the country is seeing a current decline in unemployment, it poses several challenges to wages, the level of wages and the growth of industries.
“Yes, we are happy to see the unemployment rate go down but that is creating a new problem for us and that is how do we ensure that the industries that we are creating and the industries that are growing have the trained labour that they need and how do we ensure that our labour force in general is growing to meet the demands of industries,” Holness outlined.
A recent report from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica revealed that Jamaica’s unemployment rate for 2022 was 6.6 per cent.
He expressed that this decline in unemployment requires the Government to take a strategic approach to ensure that the various industries are equipped with the trained labour to meet their demands.
“There are several programmes in place. The HEART Trust NSTA is tasked with this very critical task because now this is going to be the binding constraints on growth if we can’t solve this problem in the near future,” he said.
He added that the Government may have to implement mandatory training and attachment programmes for young people who are leaving without certification to advance into the labour market.