THE Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) and Sandals Resorts International recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to create and implement a specialised youth workforce development project.
The project targets 20 participants in the 17 to 30 age group from the communities of Granville, Barrett Town, Retirement and Anchovy in St James; Steer Town in St Ann; and Russia in Westmoreland.
The hospitality initiative will be conducted over a period of four months at an overall cost of $4.5 million, with JSIF contributing 44 per cent of the cost and Sandals the other 56 per cent.
The project forms part of the World Bank-funded Integrated Community Development Project (ICDP), under its Alternative Livelihood Component. This sub-project facilitates the positive development of youth through the provision of a wide range of social services, including skills training, apprenticeship and behaviour modification services that support youth employment creation and public safety. The JSIF is the implementing agency.
It is envisaged that the training will open a wide range of career options in hotel operations, including:
* Maintenance (plumbing, stove technicians, electricians, air conditioners and refrigeration technicians).
* Water Sports.
* Food and beverage,
* Front office.
* Housekeeping; and
"These skills and competencies will be covered during the training cycle and participants will be based at Sandals properties in the parishes of St Ann, St James and Westmoreland," JSIF said yesterday in a release.
The project will also serve as an entry point for beneficiaries to access further certification by HEART/NTA as well as other service providers.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Omar Sweeney, managing director of JSIF, expressed confidence in the success of the partnership with Sandals, while hoping to partner with other private sector entities seeking collaboration in tackling the critical issue of youth engagement and employment creation.
Mike Pike, programmes manager at Sandals Resorts International, underlined the need for more projects of this nature, as from the Sandals experience, such interventions have proven effective in tackling the stubborn problem of unemployment among our youth population.
Also addressing the gathering at the signing was Andre Wilson, president of the Youth for Development Network, who expressed enthusiasm for being a part of the project, and confidence, based on past experience, that it is a sure way to ensure success in addressing the problem of youth unemployment in the society.