Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo (FP)????

Government is "listening" to young people and is in the process of developing additional programmes for students in the area of job attachments, while creating the conditions and support for those interested in furthering their education.

That is the word from Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, who made the comments last Saturday, while delivering the feature address at the graduation ceremony for the Youth Mainstreaming Programme at Hotel PomMarine.

Dr. Byer Suckoo said her Ministry recently conducted a Tracer Survey to ascertain how the graduates of the Youth Mainstreaming Programme could be further assisted. She disclosed that 22.2 per cent of the young people polled pointed out that the creation of work opportunities/job attachments was greatly needed, while 25 per cent expressed interest in pursuing advanced courses.

"For those of you who identified the need for additional courses, the Ministry will be re-starting our Bobcat, Digital Media and the Advanced Digital Media programmes…

"The Tracer Survey also revealed that 93.8 per cent of youth desired to further their studies. However, what concerns me is 22.9 per cent identified lack of interest and 11 per cent stated bad company as the main problems facing young people in their efforts to achieve post secondary education," she continued.

She added that 86.5 per cent of those surveyed indicated they wanted to attend small business courses and she disclosed that there would be collaboration with the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme to make it a reality.

Dr. Byer Suckoo told the gathering that the current economic climate had caused her Ministry to seek and identify ways in which they could more effectively and efficiently meet the needs of young people. "It has meant cutting some areas of spending that we did not identify as developmental, such as parties, fetes and fairs, and put more emphasis on education, training and small business development," she explained.

The Youth Mainstreaming Programme replaced Project Oasis last year and it works with some tertiary institutions to create opportunities for the youth, so they could gain professional skills in various disciplines and gain employment. Some of the courses offered under the programme include Introduction to Cosmetology, International Cookery, a Diploma in Culinary Arts and advanced courses in Computer Repairs, Electrical Installations, Nail Technology and Autobody Repairs.

The Minister noted it was felt that Project Oasis was not reaching the wide cross-section of the island’s young people. She maintained though, that she now felt a measure of satisfaction, since 94.8 per cent of the youth surveyed expressed appreciation for the Youth Mainstreaming Programme and stressed it had been beneficial to them.

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