Some 165 unattached youth recently graduated from the Jamaica Social Investment Fund’s (JSIF) Alternative Livelihoods Skills and Development Project – Blue Economy training programme, during a recent ceremony at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James.
The project was undertaken in partnership with the RE School of Education and Technology (RESET) with funding of $34 million jointly provided by the Government and World Bank.
The Blue Economy, which involves economic activities occurring in and around the sea, accounts for an estimated 90 per cent of Jamaica’s gross domestic product (GDP).
In this regard, the programme provided training in boat and equipment handling and repairs, lifeguarding, scuba diving and underwater filming.
The initiative is part of JSIF’s Integrated Community Development Project (ICDP), which aims to promote public safety and transformation through the delivery of basic infrastructure and social services in 18 communities islandwide.
Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, in lauding the graduates, encouraged them to remain focused, despite the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic’s impact on the tourism industry, one of the biggest components of the blue economy.
In remarks read by Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) Executive Director, Dr. Carey Wallace, the Minister told the graduates that their training has prepared them to become involved in a new brand of tourism that is emerging.
“I suspect that given the limitations of land-based vacation activities that must adhere to restrictive COVID-19 health and safety protocols, the open sea offers a greater appeal for persons to explore aquatic recreational activities,” Mr. Bartlett said.
The Minister said he harboured no doubts “that RESET would have put you through a rigorous training programme; and being counted among the graduates today means you applied yourselves well and are duly accredited for your efforts”.
Mr. Bartlett gave the assurance that the Ministry and its agencies remain committed to restoring the tourism industry and making it stronger than it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For his part, JSIF Managing Director, Omar Sweeney, encouraged the graduates to utilize their certification as a starting point to further improve their qualifications.
“If this is your first certification, it should only be that… [and] not be your only certification. You should always look back at this day and say this is the day that [you] started to matriculate or take the steps towards becoming whatever… you set your mind to,” he said.
Mr. Sweeney also told graduates that JSIF was pleased to support them and looked forward to seeing other programmes of a similar nature emerging, adding that “I am waiting to see how many of you will eventually become trainers in this very programme.”
Custos Rotulorum for St. James, Bishop the Hon. Conrad Pitkin, in his remarks, also lauded the graduates for staying the course with the programme despite challenges they may have faced.
He encouraged them to “spread the word about the blue economy, [as] I am confident that all of you will make a very worthwhile contribution to your families, community and [the] nation.”
Bishop Pitkin also impressed upon the graduates the need to abide by ethical principles in whatever they do, and lead exemplary and positively impactful lives.
Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Homer Davis, told the graduates that the training they received will help them to be a part of the fourth industrial revolution.
He also lauded JSIF for conceptualizing the programme, noting that it represents “an investment in our people through skills training.”
JSIF’s Social Services Manager, Gresford Bennett, told JIS News that the programme’s participants were drawn from the 18 ICDP communities islandwide.
He pointed out that the training was conducted at several locations including the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) pool in Kingston and the Marine Lab in St. Ann.
The participants were recruited by the Community Development Committees (CDC) in the communities.
They were, among other things, shuttled to and from the training locations closest to their communities daily.
Mr. Bennett also indicated that lifeguard trainees will receive internationally recognized certification at the end of their training.
He noted that the lifeguarding examinations, which were postponed due to COVID-19, will be rescheduled.
Meanwhile, graduate, Omego Gardener, noted that the experience was a “great one”.
The Anchovy, St. James resident, who underwent training in under water filming, lauded JSIF for conceptualizing the programme.
“I must commend JSIF for giving us this opportunity to gain training and certification. We will use this wisely, wherever life’s journey takes us. Because of JSIF, we have been provided the opportunity to uplift [ourselves] and our family circumstances, and to make greater contributions to the development of our communities,” Mr. Gardener said.
Source: Jamaica Information Service (JIS)
by: Serena Grant