Job Corps is desperately needed, says Minister

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  • Getting buy-in: Leon Thomas

    Getting buy-in: Leon Thomas

Bermuda’s parents are desperate for Government’s Job Corps programme to help put their children on the right path, Economy Minister Patrice Minors told a meeting last night.

Mrs Minors said the initiative — designed to give young people the skills to hold a full-time job — will steer them away from the gang lifestyle.

But project manager Leon Thomas warned getting buy-in from the 16- to 24-year-old targeted age bracket is a mammoth task.

They were speaking in front of about 60 people at a Southampton Parish Council meeting at Heron Bay Primary School, at which Mr Thomas gave a presentation on Job Corps.

Mrs Minors said she had been stopped by mothers on the street, asking her when the Throne Speech initiative would begin.

“You sense the desperation that they have for their young son or daughter to go in it,” she said.

“We all recognise there’s a thirst for this kind of thing in Bermuda.

“The key thing is to take someone through the door and make them a productive individual. They can leave with a different outlook on life, having now gained a skill or trade.”

Job Corps, which has a budget of $4 to $6 million, will involve a residential programme at the Harmony Club in Paget.

Mrs Minors said: “We recognise there are young people in that age group living in an environment that’s not conducive to their education.

“Place them in a more controlled environment, with rules and regulations, but in a positive way, to turn them around, is something we know that’s needed.”

However she said a start date remains tentative while Government continues to consult with the community, in particular international business.

While the attendance was considerably higher than the four who showed up at last Friday’s Job Corps forum in Hamilton Parish, audience members noted the absence of any young people last night.

Mr Thomas conceded organisers face hard work getting their message out.

“We have to be real about this. It’s a challenging demographic,” he said.

“They are not necessarily going to listen to me but they will listen to someone who lives on their lane; they will listen to their mentors, someone they respect.

“We have an enormous task of being able to get into the community and being able to engage in that way and being able to push when necessary.”

Southampton West Progressive Labour Party MP Randy Horton, one of six general election candidates present, spoke of the need to liaise with the business community.

“It’s important that young people come out from wherever they are and they get a job,” said Mr Horton.

“This needs a relationship with business to ensure we have success at the end of the pipeline.

“Business has to understand what Job Corps is and who these people are who are coming out.”

Speaking after the meeting, Mrs Minors told The Royal Gazette young people should see Job Corps as an opportunity to identify their passion and convert it into a career.

“It’s most important,” she said. Our young people are faced with a wealth of challenges in this environment we are living in. Not just economically, but the challenges of peer pressure and all manner of societal issues that provide hindrance for them to make the right decision.

“In becoming a part of Job Corps, they have an opportunity to change to a path that leads to them becoming positive citizens.”

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Published Nov 21, 2012 at 8:00 am (Updated Nov 21, 2012 at 12:28 am)

Job Corps is desperately needed, says Minister

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