Minister of Labour, Social Security and the Third Sector, Colin Jordan, speaking at the relaunch ceremony for Job Start Plus at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre on Wednesday. (GP)

Minister of Labour, Social Security and the Third Sector, Colin Jordan, has signalled his intention to ensure more opportunities are made available to young persons under the Government’s national first jobs initiative, Job Start Plus.

The programme, spearheaded by his Ministry, seeks to empower persons aged 16 to 24 who have no work experience, by providing them with world of work training and other developmental support  Participants also benefit from job placements, of no less than three months, with participating companies.

Delivering the feature address at the ceremony to relaunch the programme at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre on Wednesday, Minister Jordan indicated that since the programme’s inception in December 2019, they had received a good response from companies, especially those in the manufacturing, retail, automotive, construction and financial services sector.

He stated that up to February 2020, the Ministry had confirmed 91 placements with 35 employers; while another 89 employers had expressed interest in the programme.  However, this changed with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to Minister Jordan, the programme “never stopped but was significantly slowed”.  He explained that during the height of the pandemic, the resulting challenges and disruptions resulted in limited availability of job placements.

The Labour Minister further stated that about 173 persons received the World of Work training and career planning during this period, with only 40 per cent receiving job placements. 

Despite the challenges, Mr. Jordan reported that “a number had transitioned to full time employees”, noting that this speaks volumes about the impact of the programme.

Minister Jordan praised the participants, stating that while Job Start Plus prepared them for the workplace and “got their feet in the door”, “it was their performance, attitude and skills that secured their future”.

The fifth cohort of World of Work Training programme pose with their certificates of completion at the relaunch ceremony of the Job Start Plus initiative, on Wednesday. (GP)

Meanwhile, he said his Ministry was keen on continuing to work with the private sector; the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, and the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs to assist the island’s young people.

“Our vision for Job Start Plus is that it becomes the primary vehicle for job attachments to gain work experience,” Mr. Jordan concluded.

Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Dr. Karen Best, praised the private sector entities which are on board with the programme, noting that addressing youth employment requires all stakeholders to play a role.

She also thanked the European Union (EU) for its support of these efforts through the provision of a grant worth approximately BDS $8 million provided through its social protection programme with Barbados.

Also speaking at the relaunch of Job Start Plus was Team Leader, Economic and Social Section of the EU Delegation to Barbados, Janet Coto Moreno, who emphasised the importance of having measures in place to aid young people in shaping their future and contributing to national development.

Additionally, Ms. Moreno pledged the EU’s commitment to ensuring the success of the national first job initiative.

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