The Government of Jamaica and the Youth UpliftmentThrough Employment (YUTE) Project signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the Office of the Prime Minister on November 26, 2012.

The YUTE Project is a collaborative initiative among the Government, the National Housing Trust (NHT), the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP) as well as members of the Private Sector. It’s offshoot YUTE Build which is what was specifically signed on Monday, was conceptualized by the Private Sector will see youths being trained in construction skills. A cheque of $10Mfor the Project was handed over by the NHT to Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller on behalf of the initiative.

In delivering the keynote address, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said that she was very happy to have watched the idea of the initiative blossom from the concept to the launch and its subsequent implementation. She placed her comments in the context of anything that can be done to better the lot of youths would be done. In speaking to investor confidence returning to the country the PM said, “Investor confidence and interest in the construction sector is showing encouraging signs.” Continuing she explained, “A number of potential investors, including some from overseas, have been approaching the NHT with a view to contributing to the provision of housing for the Jamaican people.”

In making the connection between the construction industry and the YUTE initiative, Mrs. Simpson Miller said that the YUTE Project would provide participants with the necessary skills to take advantage of opportunities that would arise. She noted that 50% of the participants would be drawn from NHT Schemes from all over the island. She said the project was about ‘transforming lives and communities’ and warned that youths should not squander or take any resultant opportunities from the initiative for granted.

The pilot phase of the Project will target youths between 18 and 29 from Kingston’s inner cities. The HEART Trust/NTA will carry out the training and certification. Training is expected to start in January 2013 and will last for 9 months.

On completion of the training, the possibility is there for participants to be placed within the Incorporated Master Builders Association (IMAJ), JEEP and the NHT. There is also a component for internships, where participants will receive a stipend.  

Also speaking at the launch was Minster Omar Davies who noted that the launch of the Programme was the fulfillment of a promise made in the PM’s Budget Debate Speech. He said that the Project which has JEEP as one of the contributors is a ringing endorsement of that Programme (JEEP).He said that the expertise gained by the youths will come in handy in assisting with the re-building efforts that will take place post the ‘Sandy’ hurricane.

Other speakers at the launch included, Mr. Easton Douglas, Chairman of the NHT; Hon. Lisa Hanna, Minister of Youth and Culture, Rev. Hon. Ronald Thwaites, Minister of Education; Mr. Keith Duncan, one of the officials representing YUTE; Mrs. Cecile Watson, Managing Director, NHT and Jermaine Braithwaite, one of the participants in the YUTE Programme who gave a glowing testimonial of the Programme.