Mon | Dec 6, 2021

Youths seize second chance at job skills

Published:Friday | December 20, 2019 | 12:00 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
Jodie Carter has become an evangelist for the CSJP courses. "I’ve recommended people and some of them are here graduating with me," she told The Gleaner.
Andrew Warren says that a second chance at education has“helped me to maintain myself and stay out of trouble".
Alecia Edwards adjusts the bowtie of her cousin, Shemar Clarke, during the Citizen Security and Justice Programme graduation at Knutsford Court Hotel on Thursday.

Shemar Clarke comes from Rockfort in east Kingston and he beamed with pride as he spoke about his journey in the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP).

The 18-year-old, who is a former student at Holy Trinity High, said chief among his achievements is renewed confidence in his capabilities.

“More while, mi have some people weh talk down pan me ‘cause when mi lef school, mi lef wid [practical skills] like welding and maths City & Guilds, no CXC. Mi never did really have no confidence, and CSJP build dat,” the youngster said.

Clarke was enrolled in the Career Advancement Programme when he was expelled from Holy Trinity. He said that his fortunes changed when he got a call from CSJP.

His father, Damion, shared in the celebration.“Mi proud fi know seh him a get fi achieve what him want,” he said.

Clarke, a certified Level One welder, was one of 60 young men and women who graduated from the CSJP-Encounter Ministries International programme with increased employability skills, strengthened numeracy and literacy skills, and readiness to sit the HEART Trust diagnostic entry test.

They hope to tap opportunities in the working world where youth unemployment in Jamaica stands at 17.30 per cent, more than double the national average rate of 7.8 per cent.

Twenty-eight-year-old Jodie Carter had a yearning desire to deepen her education. She tried to enrol at HEART Trust/NTA and had a couple of failed attempts. She enrolled in CSJP with the help of a friend and is now equipped to pursue a chosen field of work.

“I learnt to read better, to do English and mathematics better. I’ve recommended people, and some of them are here graduating with me, and I still have around five of them to bring to the office,” she said.

Andrew Warren, another graduate, worked as a labourer on construction sites in and around the gritty St Andrew community of Waterhouse, but with that industry having a revolving door of uncertainty – “sometimes dem jus leggo man” – he decided to join CSJP to prepare him for the HEART exams.

“It helped me to maintain myself and stay out of trouble. Right now, I want to go and pick up a trade in culinary arts at HEART because I figure I can be a great chef,” the 30-year-old said.

Not easy, but worth it

The training was facilitated at Maths Unlimited and the College of Insurance and Professional Studies, both in Kingston.

Programme director Janet Allen said that it was not an easy nine months, but it was worth it.

“There were times when we thought we were gonna lose the space where we rented, but they were just not in it for the rental income. They partnered with us for transformation,” Allen said.

The development training programme had English, mathematics, and life skills as mandatory components.

A behaviour modification ticketing framework, a merit system, job-essential training in food preparation and housekeeping, empowerment sessions, and research days at the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Library were also part of the programme.

Of the 60 students who sat the HEART Trust/NTA diagnostic assessment, 40 passed both subjects and 54 students got at least one subject.

Allen is confident that the Church is actively playing its role in transforming lives and changing profiles as more than 17 communities in the Corporate Area were impacted through the programme.

Encounter Ministries International is a local faith-based organisation that started in 2011. It is mobilised around the agenda of reaching individuals at risk, restoring broken lives, promoting positive leadership, and purpose-driven empowerment.