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Business sector urged to support uncontrollable children

Published:Thursday | July 21, 2016 | 12:00 AMJason Cross

Children who have been deemed uncontrollable are being given an opportunity to turn their lives around and find employment when they leave the Metcalfe Street and the South Camp juvenile correctional facilities.

Through what is described as "a new path programme", the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), last month, collaborated with the private and public sectors here to provide skills, job training and job opportunities for these children.

At the recent launch of the programme at the Courtyard Marriot Hotel in New Kingston, an appeal was made to some of the country's most powerful and influential business people who were present to get on board.

"These young people have not committed any crime. What we wanted to do was to inform the public and private sectors of this programme. Many of them (children) are in the institutions for uncontrollable behaviour. They are not criminals or former criminals we're asking them to take on. We're asking them to join in on this project to serve as either mentors to these young people, provide them with internship programmes or job opportunities," OAS representative Jeanelle Van Glaanenweygel told The Gleaner.

She continued: "The other part of the programme is a 'pitch it' event. Through the pitch it event, (we) have selected a group of youths to offer them entrepreneurial opportunities. They would get the training to set up their own business and (we) provide them with the necessary skills. All of this is done with several NGOs non-governmental organisations. We work with HEART, Junior Achievement and others to provide training and support."

The youths will also receive up to $500,000, which is to assist with setting up their own businesses.

Van Glaanenweygel said that even though the programme was already up and running, the involvement of the private and public sectors would make it more far reaching.

Dennis Chung, CEO of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, was the keynote speaker at the launch.