At-risk youth are being given what some may term a second chance at taking life in a new direction, as government’s Security Justice and Security Program (CSJP) is expected to do just that, according to Gadville McDonald, Executive Director at the National Training Agency (NTA).
Recent statistics released by the Ministry of Labor at mid-point 2018 indicate that unemployment among young Bahamians increased significantly.
Unemployment among Bahamian youth ages 15 to 24 remains considerably higher than any other age group, according to Ministry of Labor statistics.
As of May 2018, unemployment among that demographic stood at 24.1 per cent; two per cent higher than statistics recorded in November 2017.
While unemployment has soared among at-risk youth, there are some who have opined that there is a direct correlation between those numbers and the demographic perpetrating crime.
To this end, the Ministry of National Security recently launched a program to offer unemployed youth an opportunity to avoid the influence of crime and criminality.
In an effort to curb climbing crime statistics among at-risk youth, the government has introduced the multi-faceted crime and violence prevention programme.
“We focus on the individuals who have fallen through the gap,” McDonald explained.
“If you’re not prepared for the workforce, this is where you come. If you are unqualified for the workforce, this is where you come.”
The program is hosted at four different locations; the NTA on Gladstone Road, Quakoo Street, Blue Hill Road and Fox Hill.
Two-hundred and sixty-eight Bahamian youth are currently enrolled in the program.
McDonald is confident that more than half of that number will land employment at the end of the 12-week program.
“Fifty-four per cent of individuals who complete this program transition directly into the workforce, and that’s a big deal for us,” McDonald said.
Participants are being prepped with soft skills development for the first four weeks.
“Soft skills are very important primarily because you can acquire the knowledge of a profession, but when you’re applying that to organizational governance, it helps in knowing how to deflect those situations and how to communicate effectively with others,” said Anthony Stubbs, Facilitator, CSJP.
Eight weeks of technical training follows soft skills training.
Program participants told Eyewitness News how the program is helping to transform their lives.
“It’s a good opportunity to get out there and interact with others and break out of our shells. This is all very important because most of us don’t have the opportunity to engage in things like this,” shared Seaniqua Taylor, CSJP participant.
“I came to this program looking to get certificates to make it out there in the real world to make some honest money,” noted Tyrone Davis, CSP participant.
“One of the things I learnt was that I can fix the way I speak by using certain words to use in the professional world. I’ve learnt how to switch between the two and I find that it will be helpful with trying to make it out there in the real world.”
Participants are receiving specialized training in hospitality and retail.