Youth Development Ministry

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The revival of community centers and special programming is driving the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment’s current focus on youth development. This from Minister Dwight Sutherland as he appeared as a guest speaker at the St. Michael South Branch meeting of the Barbados Labor Party recently.

Highlighting the recent move which has seen the refurbishment of community centers across the island and even the construction of a new one in Bathsheba, St. Joseph, Minister Sutherland outlined some of the programs launched by his ministry aimed specifically at the youth of the ‘Isle. Referring to the ‘Get In to Get Hired’ program which sees 80 young people between the ages of 16 and 20 attend the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute to study photovoltaic installation and maintenance as well as electric vehicle repair, Minister Sutherland said also mentioned the ‘Pathways’ and ‘Youth Achieving Results’, all of which aimed to equip our young people with the tools to succeed.

Rejecting the school of thought that the next generation was a lost generation, Sutherland said it was up to the government to give young people the opportunity to learn a skill to own their own business. Noting that we have over 60,000 young people in this country and 4,000 school leavers each year, he said the government believes our young people have the energy and creativity to solve most of our problems and transform the country.

Going on to say that the country will never be able to exceed our weight again if our young people are not self-reliant, Sutherland said access to community centers was crucial to achieving the goal and also alluded to plans to to secure the property of one in St Michel Sud.

“Some of these programs will be run in community centers – that’s why we’re fixing them – because we want our young people to recognize that even if you leave school at 16 without your English and math, there’s still hope. And that’s what this ministry is all about. Creating opportunities for the 60,000 young people,” he said, adding that the Pathways program would prepare young people for the future through career internships and that some of them were also interested in the armed forces.

“We also take young men and women and train them to become law enforcement officers; we also cooperate with the police. Thus, this “Pathways” program will see 1,000 young men and women trained this year, so that we can prepare them to enter the world of work; and that’s what we do. And most of the training will take place in community centers.

With the “Youth Achieving Results” program focusing on cultural arts and providing training in dance and singing, among others, Sutherland added that it is run in conjunction with the National Cultural Foundation.

“This program will this year see 200 young men and women trained in the arts in partnership with the National Cultural Foundation. So when we look at all the programs – youth leadership training – we have to prepare young men and women for leadership positions in this country. Our Prime Minister was a leader, a minister in his twenties. I tell you old people, if you tell young people that they should be seen and not heard, then you do not understand that youth development is national development and national development is youth development because we cannot progress as a nation without empowering our many young people,” he said, adding that this year 200 young people under the age of 35 were also trained in leadership in the communities of Barbados. (deputy)

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