The government yesterday launched a $20 million Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) geared towards providing skills training to 2,600 at-risk youth.
“Today, through this special launch, we are giving at-risk youth between the ages of 16 and 29, who may have fallen through the cracks, a second chance to improve and enhance their lives,” said Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes during the press conference at the Department of Labour on Rosetta Street.
“This program is all about enabling and empowering our youth and to represent opportunities for young Bahamians who may not have completed high school or are currently unemployed and do not have much experience or training but are dedicated and willing to work towards bettering themselves and making positive contributions to our work force.”
Foulkes said the program is designed to improve behaviors for non-violent conflict resolution; increase employability and employment of the at-risk youth population of The Bahamas; strengthen institutional capabilities of justice services; and reduce the recidivism rate among those within the juvenile system.
Under this programme the Department of Labour has joined with the Ministry of National Security for the training of 1,000 at-risk youth in soft skills and 1,600 at-risk youth in both soft skills and technical skills.
The program is funded by a $20 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank.
Yesterday marked the launch of the registration drive to identify eligible at-risk youth for the program, which will be launched during the first quarter of next year.
Youth who make it into the training program will go through a four-week soft skills training program with the National Training Agency.
Special focus will be in areas such as stress and anger management, professional communication, conflict resolution, time management, teamwork, problem solving and other general areas.
The participants will then transition into six weeks of technical training, primarily hospitality and retail based roles including food and beverage, housekeeping, butler services, guest services, cashing, sales and many other areas of training related to those industries.
Those individuals who successfully complete the technical training will then have an opportunity to be placed in internships and on the job training where they will receive “world experience” along with a stipend.
The total labor force from the most recent survey was 222,035.
Of that 200,155 people were employed, and 21,880 people were unemployed.
Youth unemployment stood at 24.1 percent at the end of April.
Leneah Davis-Woodside, 27, said, she has been out of work since 2008, but saw the information about the program on Facebook and decided to take a chance.
She said she believes the program is good for young men and women because “it pushes you to do more and further your education…but you have to put your best into it no matter what”.
“It is very important because you learn different trading and you learn different stuff, like typing, cleaning, going out there helping other people, to move forward,” she added.
Davis-Woodside said she is confident that after she completes the program, she will find employment for the first time in almost 10 years.
Antonio Simmons, 23, who also heard about the program via social media said he sees it as a good opportunity for him.
“I’m going to give this a try and hopefully [be] successful in [obtaining] a job,” he said.
Simmons said he was working since he graduated from high school in 2011 until August of this year.
He said he previously worked in customer service and was recently doing security work for about four years.
“I could continue doing security but I could do anything if I technically learn from this program, if they put me in any different field,” Simmons said.
“I am willing to learn any different trade right now, I just need a job.”
The program will take a multi-agency approach through several governmental agencies including the Office of the Attorney General, the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Youth, the Ministry of Social Services, the Department of Rehabilitative/Welfare Services, the Department of Correctional Services and the National Training Agency.