Minister Rolle reports on Youth Initiatives
By Eric Rose
Jun 18, 2019 - 4:55:55 PM
Nassau, The Bahamas – During her recent Contribution to the Budget Debate 2019/2020, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture the Hon. Lanisha Rolle said, based on the declarations in the Speech from the Throne, her Government desires to increase the outflow of young professionals, reduce the high levels of unemployment of youth, implement specialized programs to equip our youth with essential job related skills, and strengthen Fresh Start and Jump Start programs.
“To increase the outflow of young professionals and reduce the high level of unemployment, and to achieve those results in record time, the Ministry will be required to identify and establish an Inter-Ministerial Youth Officer Corps, the members of which can be dedicated to monitoring and reporting the rate of employment, advancement, access to equal opportunities and adherence to fairness as it relates to pay and conditions of work, or service in organizations,” Minister Rolle said, on June 12, 2019.
“The reality is young people are for the most part influenced by their peers,” she added. “There must be a strategic effort to place young people at the forefront of organizations to attract other young people, and to monitor their access to knowledge and opportunities for empowerment and to measure their performance.”
Minister Rolle said that Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis' vision of meritocracy was the only way in for young people, who “do not feel they have a fair chance to be a part of the leadership of this country when they have to compete with antiquated systems bent on seniority in the absence of work priority.”
“To the young, the philosophy of meritocracy is a sure way to inspire young people to dream again, to work hard and to have faith that it is possible to eat of the good of the land before becoming old in age,” she said. “Reality is, this generation is willing to work, but they want to be properly compensated at a rate that they can take care of themselves and their responsibilities.”
“They want to be elevated based on their performance and not told to wait in line if their work is up to par and they wanted to be recognized for their outstanding service, albeit long or short,” Minister Rolle added. “I support the implementation of a system of meritocracy to attract young professionals to work and perform exceptionally in the public service.”
Minister Rolle said that Youth Programmes had been strengthened in terms of their expansion to all the major Family Islands. She noted that her Ministry was, at that time, identifying Ministry Coordinators to ensure that each program ongoing in the capital was, likewise, afforded to the young people on the Family Islands.
“Not only are we extending ourselves but we are also seeking to modernize our programming to provide online programmes through Zoom and other secure media, to ensure our Family Islands have full quality of program offerings,” she said.
Minister Rolle pointed out that during the last fiscal period, her Ministry launched the ongoing youth entrepreneurship programme, “BE Inspired.”
“You may recall, the Government’s execution of a similar programme in 2007 – known as the Self-Starter Programme – that catered to young persons ages 16–29 years, by providing a one-time grant for business start-up in amounts ranging $1,000 to $5,000,” Minister Rolle said. “However, the redesigned 'BE Inspired Programme', although still offering these aspects of the former Self-Starter Programme, incorporates greater training, monitoring and evaluation components that will take our youth-operated micro businesses to the next level of success.”
Minister Rolle stated that the programme, extended to young people not older than 35 years old, sought to accomplish the following objectives: create a cohort of professional, knowledgeable and capable entrepreneurs; decrease the number of premature closings of micro-businesses throughout The Bahamas; increase mentorship and training for new and existing grant recipients; and facilitate the development of Bahamian businesses and products.
“To date, the training session for this programme has already been conducted in New Providence and Eleuthera, with training sessions in Exuma, Abaco and Andros, forthcoming,” she said. “My Ministry has been successful in training 120 young entrepreneurs in these islands, thus far, with a number of training sessions scheduled for the remaining programmatic year and hundreds of applications still being submitted.”
“You would be aware that in this current fiscal period, this programme was introduced in Grand Bahama as a joint initiative of my Ministry, the Office of The Prime Minister and Ministry for Grand Bahama,” she continued. “In the first instance, my Ministry proposes per the budget allocation, a commitment of $840,000 in relation to this exercise for the facilitation of new and existing businesses.
“We are happy to report of our continued partnership with the Small Business Development Center which proves to be a beneficial arrangement that greatly increases opportunities for our young entrepreneurs.”
On the topic of Youth Partnership Strengthening, Minister Rolle said that her Ministry realizes that it cannot do it alone.
“Thus, over the years, we have partnered with a number of Civic Organizations who register with us as a Partner in providing standardized programmes and best practices for youth development,” she said. “The partnership created between these organizations and the Division of Youth allows for the organization to access technical and financial resources, as well as identifying itself as a credible, legally compliant, and government registered organization.”
Minister Rolle said that her Ministry was actively engaging in relationship management with the leaders of organizations, ensuring that constant dialogue exists, access to grants was provided, and a level of accountability was maintained through an annual registration process managed by the Ministry.
“To date, more than 127 youth organizations are registered with the Division of Youth, [and] are compliant with annual reporting requirements and the fulfillment of two-person quota of youth leaders who have completed the National Youth Leaders Certification Course,” she noted.
Minister Rolle stated that youth development work was no small feat, as it had extensive human and financial resource needs that were only partially fulfilled by the youth organizations, philanthropists and volunteers throughout The Bahamas.
“In an effort to further support the collaborative efforts of the Division of Youth and the various youth organizations, my Ministry proposes a financial commitment of $360,000, which also encompasses grants given to the compliant organizations,” she said.
“In the new fiscal year, my Ministry anticipates an increase in the number of registered youth organizations by some 125 entities, and it is our intent to provide additional support to these organizations in the form of grants and other funding opportunities,” Minister Rolle added. “More information on this process can be obtained from the Youth Division’s website at www.celebrateyouthbahamas.org ”
Minister Rolle stated that the Division of Youth realized that ongoing training was vital to ensure optimum performance.
“Carefully influencing our youth requires my Ministry facilitation of robust training programs that teach youth workers how to properly interact with youth, how to inspire youth involvement and how to prepare young people to succeed in the workforce,” she said. “Toward this end, the following programmes are hosted by the Division: the Youth Leaders Certification Programme for Youth Development Workers; the Fresh Start Programme, which is a sixteen-week employment skills training and internship programme for youth ages 18 – 25 years; and the Job Ready Programme, which is a short six-week employability skills training programme for youth ages 16 – 18 years, specifically designed as a condensed version of Fresh Start.”
While speaking further on each of the mentioned programmes, Minister Rolle said that, for the past 15 years, the Division of Youth had successfully coordinated the well-known National Youth Leaders Certification Programme.
“This program standardizes youth work and raises the bar on youth engagement throughout The Bahamas,” she said. “It is a critical element of youth work on a national scale, as it equips passionate youth leaders with the skills and knowledge necessary to maintain professional, effective, and strategic mentorships with our young people.
“Over the course of 16 weeks, youth leaders are rigorously trained in the areas of positive youth engagement, effective communication, conflict resolution, stress management, career counseling, and the basics of general counseling and vocational guidance.”
Minister Rolle said she was pleased to report that during the current fiscal period her Ministry would have engaged and trained some 362 youth practitioners throughout New Providence and Grand Bahama.
“It is our hope that as a result of ongoing talks and consequent agreements with the University of The Bahamas, a Degree in Youth Work is launched to build capacity in the field of youth work,” she said.
Minister Rolle said that the Fresh Start Programme primarily focuses on personal development and skills training for unattached youth ages 16 – 25 years. This 16-week programme comprises of three segments: Job Readiness & Personal Development, Skills Development, and Internship, she added.
“Segment number one – Job Readiness – is held over a two week period,” she explained. “Participants receive training in resume writing, interview tips and techniques, work ethics and other requisite soft skills training to adequately prepare them for the workforce.”
“The Skills Development component is conducted over a 10-week period,” she continued. “Participants receive training in Hospitality and Butler Services, Mixology, IT Fundamentals & Computer Repair, Culinary Arts, General Maintenance and Certified Office Assistant work.”
The Internship component of that programme, she noted, was facilitated through a long-standing partnership with corporate Bahamas.
“The participants receive real time work experience, training and mentorship from industry professionals,” she said. “Participants are also required to complete the Ministry of Tourism’s Bahamahost Customer Service Course and the Ministry of Health’s Food Handlers Course.”
Minister Rolle said that 307 youth applicants successfully completed the Fresh Start Programme during the fiscal year, as at March 2019.
“As is desirable for all of our graduates, approximately 90 percent of these individuals have secured permanent employment as a result of the training and internship offered by this programme,” she noted. “Another cycle is scheduled to commence in both New Providence and Grand Bahama this coming October 2019.”
Minister Rolle said that it was essential for as many to appreciate and understand that programmes overseen and run by the Ministry of Youth were distinct in that they were designed for specific age demographic, and strategically to meet the needs of specific category of persons.
“Youth programs are to be carefully monitored by trained and or professional youth workers to ensure compliance with Commonwealth, United Nations and other international standards and best practices.”
Minister Rolle went on to note that the reality is, one has to be ready, willing and able to work. Having a degree, reaching the age of majority and having a desire to have the best in life was not sufficient to keep a person on the job, she added; one must be able to do the job for which they are hired.
“For that purpose, the Job Ready Programme is a six-week work readiness programme aimed at increasing the employability skills among youth ages 16-18 years,” she said. “Participants engage in workshops, training, and group activities. The course seeks to create an easily digestible curriculum which prepares young people for the working world.”
Minister Rolle pointed out that the long-standing partnership between the Division of Youth and corporate Bahamas continuously allows for increased mentorship and training opportunities for those young people – which is manifested during the four weeks following the course, where the participants gain on-the-job experience at one of the partnering businesses.
“Skills developed by participants gives them a competitive advantage in the job market by making them more marketable and attractive to the prospective employer,” she said.
“During the last fiscal year, 167 applicants from New Providence have graduated in January 2019, and the pending schedule encompasses opportunities in other islands including Grand Bahama, Abaco, Exuma and Bimini,” Minister Rolle continued. “Nationwide, the Job Ready Programme proposes to impact an estimated 250 young people over the next fiscal period, with a proposed budget commitment of $100,000.”
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