Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) programme is not emergency work but instead is a one year engagement for unattached youths. He says it is aimed at building character and providing opportunities to develop employable skills.
“It is not emergency work. This is a one year engagement. This is not emergency work where you work for six weeks or for three months and you don’t get any training. This is a means of systematically scaling up apprenticeship employment throughout government. It is the start of a compulsory national service that we hope will become a standard institution of government and will be part of our civil service structure,” explained Prime Minister Holness.
The Prime Minister was speaking at this morning’s (Monday, May 8) press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister where he revealed that Lieutenant Colonel Martin Rickman will be the National Coordinator of the Programme. Lieutenant Colonel Rickman was seconded from the JDF to lead the HOPE programme.
Mr. Holness noted that the initial phase of HOPE will focus on employment of unattached youngsters between the ages of 18-24.
“The HOPE programme will identify the youngsters, give them the necessary skills, bring them under an apprenticeship framework and set them to work in building a better and more efficient government service,” he said.
Prime Minister Holness said as a result of the programme being managed under a national apprenticeship framework, the National Apprenticeship Act which is almost 50 years old is currently being revised to make provision for young persons that fall within the critical 18-24 cohort.
The Prime Minister underscored that the HOPE programme is not just an employment strategy, but it is a critical part of how the government intends to make a transformational change especially as it relates to crime and violence.
“The truth is that if we are going to make any change in the level of violence, the level of deviance, the level of crime in our country, we must make an impact on that cohort, because it is that cohort that is the victim of most of the violence in the country but unfortunately that cohort actually produce most of the violence in the country,” stated Prime Minister Holness.
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