Some 200 new recruits officially began their two-year stint with the Barbados YouthADVANCE Corps, which replaces the Barbados Youth Service (BYS), today.
Minister of Youth and Community Empowerment, Adrian Forde, addressed the recruits and their parents yesterday at The Lester Vaughn School as they prepared to travel to Paragon Base, Christ Church, for the first six weeks of residential training.
Minister Forde explained that the new initiative was expected to increase the scope and scale of the programme previously offered through the BYS.
He explained that 28 years ago, the BYS’ intake was 300 plus persons, however, over the last 20 years, the numbers had dwindled to about 70 on average.
“The data is there to suggest that we were not reaching the number of young persons who are leaving school and walking around aimlessly and suffering from disillusionment. Approximately 3,500 persons leave school every year and out of this number, 70 per cent remain unemployed up to the age of 20.
“It makes no sense capturing 70 young persons when there are 2,800 who are asking to be counted, who are asking for us to find an alternative and find an avenue where they can live the Barbadian dream,” he maintained.
The Minister appealed to young persons present to work with Government to ensure the success of the programme.
“We as a Government, cannot do it alone; you have to be a part of a nationalistic paradigm. A change where you take care of your society and you will be responsible for the future of this country,” he stressed.