The fifth cohort of the Youth Summer Employment Programme (YSEP) has been launched, with new areas of focus added for the approximately 6,000 youth who will participate this year.
The programme will run from August 9 to September 3 and will give the participants an opportunity to earn and gain skills over the summer break.
Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, in outlining the areas of work, noted that in addition to the usual activities in the auditing of street lights and identifying vulnerable persons, the young people will be engaged in promoting the take-up of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine.
“YSEP workers across the country will participate in this exercise; they will be trained by the Ministry of Health [and Wellness]. This is one new aspect of the programme,” he said.
Minister McKenzie was addressing the launching ceremony held at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE) in Portland on July 30.
He said that the YSEP workers will also assist the municipal corporations in creating more orderly communities, towns, and cities by working with building officers to identify illegal constructions.
This activity, Minister McKenzie said, “will help the municipal corporations to put an end to illegal operations such as motorcar dealerships and garages”.
YSEP participants will also work with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) in disaster risk management, through the municipal corporations’ disaster coordinators. Each disaster coordinator will be assigned three YSEP workers.
“One of the areas we want to focus on this year will be the assessment of the number of homeless persons in Jamaica, town by town, parish by parish. This we call a Point in Time Survey of the Homeless Population,” the Local Government Minister added.
The last Point in Time Survey was conducted in 2017. With the information gathered, the Board of Supervision will be able to design a more effective response to the needs of that population.
Young people will also be placed within the Monitoring Unit of ODPEM and the Social Development Commission (SDC) to help in ensuring that the COVID-19 protocols are observed in public spaces.
YSEP has been expanded to include members of community-based organisations, youth groups and churches, who can apply through the SDC. Persons can still apply through their respective political representatives and municipal corporations.
The programme began in 2017 as an initiative of Minister McKenzie. Since its inception, approximately 21,000 youth between the ages of 17 and 24 have benefited from summer work.