Yesterday at Youth Opportunities Unlimited’s office, 25 young people gathered to discuss employment. To be specific, they discussed a dire lack of employment opportunities in Jamaica. The unemployment rate for young people in Jamaica is horrific: 40 per cent, according to the latest figures, so consultations with youth are a valuable tool in uncovering the reason for such high levels.
The consultation occurred in partnership with YOU partner Cuso International, which has worked with this NGO for over a decade. (Cuso International matches YOU with professionals from Canada who possess the skills and abilities that can aid YOU in capacity building and achieving sustainability. I am currently placed there as a Communications Advisor.)
Cuso International is currently launching its new strategy, an important component of it being the inclusion of youth voices, says Country Representative Tarik Perkins. As a result, Cuso is conducting baseline surveys of inner city youth who are beneficiaries of its partnerships.
“We are trying to get a qualitative sense of what the issues are,” says Cuso advisor and Guyana native Lloyda Nicholas. Cuso’s current strategy, and the one going forward, includes three thematic areas: access to justice; participation and voice and employability and entrepreneurship.
Yesterday’s consultation drew youth from all over Kingston’s inner-city communities, including Allman Town, Arnett Gardens and Mountain View. By all accounts, the discussion was a success and provided much to be studied in terms of reasons for unemployment and lack of access to opportunities. The youth engaged in a lively discussion and talked about issues such as lack of training and financing for education.
“We are always happy to provide Cuso with voices and opinions from our young people as they try to make inroads in seeking employment,” says YOU’s Deputy Executive Director Cush Lewis.