There is a misconception that the Barbados YouthADVANCE Corps (BYAC) is only an establishment that seeks to correct wayward young persons who are struggling with behavioural issues.
This is certainly not the focus of the BYAC, and while there is a disciplinary aspect, the programme also offers a comprehensive suite of developmental, academic, vocational and life skills training.
Following reviews and evaluations it was recognised that participants required additional support, especially in the area of securing certification and work opportunities, if they were to successfully ADVANCE in society.
In response, the programme was redesigned to include Technical and Vocational Training with established educational institutions and private sector agencies.
To date, there are 105 trainees at the Technical & Vocational level of the BYAC programme from Cohorts one, two and three – seventy-seven males and 28 females. Their Technical and Vocational training began back in October of 2021. Other trainees who have completed the programme have also seen much success in their academic pursuits.
Alana Tasker is one such trainee who has had exceptional success during her studies at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute for Technology (SJPI), through the BYAC. After joining Cohort one, she graduated with a Distinction in the Child Care Nursery Attendant Course and was also the proud recipient of the ‘Most Outstanding Student and Registrar’s Award’.
She said: “My classes were very interesting and fun despite the few challenges…. Upon thinking back, if I had given up during the six weeks residential [training] at Paragon Military Base, I would not have been able to achieve all I have today.”
Tristan Greaves from Cohort two also emerged from his studies within the Mechanical Engineering and Printing Division at the SJPI with the ‘Most Outstanding Student Award’.
Additionally, trainees from Cohorts one and two sat the City and Guilds Mathematics & English Examinations in 2021; seven received Distinctions, and 26 received Merits.
The comprehensive BYAC Programme provides the right foundation needed by young persons before they move on to the next steps in their lives. Some 166 trainees, spanning from Cohorts one to three, are actively employed across the construction, hospitality, security, administration and retail industries in Barbados.
Service and volunteerism are also very important aspects of the BYAC programme. Trainees participated in many activities, including water distribution in rural parishes affected by water outages, preparation of care packages, beautification of the Community Centres at Haggatt Hall, Deacons & Boscobelle, the Barbados Boy Scouts and the Girl Guides Association of Barbados, as well as providing assistance to elderly residents of Harts Gap, Christ Church, among other assignments.
The Barbados YouthADVANCE Corps is one of the programming channels of the Division of Youth Affairs in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment.