Over 150 youth complete first cohort of Citizen Security and Justice Programme’s Employability Training

This past Thursday, November 3rd, youth from all corners of New Providence celebrated their accomplishment in completing the Citizen Security and Justice Programme’s (CSJP) first-ever At-Risk Youth Employability Training, which was executed by the experienced team of the National Training Agency and overseen by the Ministry of National Security (MoNS).

Attending the closing ceremony was Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Bernard Nottage, who expressed great pride in seeing such a large group of youth successfully complete the programme. Minister Nottage encouraged the youth to “keep persevering” and use this accomplishment as a launching point for future success:

“Much of the time when people talk about our youth it is often within a negative context, so it is truly encouraging to me to see so many bright-eyed young people who are engaged and willing to do what it takes to direct their life’s trajectory towards success.”

Minister Nottage noted that the major objective of the CSJP is to reduce crime, with employability skills being one of the major ways that the MoNS intends to holistically address crime:

“Increasing employability and employment of at-risk youth is one of the major priorities of the Citizen Security and Justice Programme. Our youth are more likely to be both the perpetrators and victims of crime; so it is essential to address their needs if we are truly seeking to positively impact the crime rate in a lasting way. Employment often functions as a stabilizing force within the lives of youth and gaining the skills necessary to be a productive member of the work force is the first step towards gainful employment.”

In the 2012 analysis of the Wages and Productivity Survey conducted by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), it was found that over 50% of all unemployed people in The Bahamas were below the age of 30 and that the major areas that employers were concerned about were job-specific skills, general soft skills and academic skills. This information was the driving force behind the creation of what now constitutes the CSJP’s approach to Employability training.

The Employability Training is free of charge to all eligible youth and specifically caters to Bahamian citizens between the ages of 15 to 29 who live in lower-income and/or high crime areas of New Providence. The training was delivered over a period of 4 weeks and successful students will now be eligible for placement into one of the various technical and vocational training programmes being provided in phase two of the training programme. This group of 150 at-risk youth is just the first in a five year process that will see over 2,600 youth trained for employability and employment.

Partnering with the Ministry of National Security on this initiative is the Ministry of Labour, which is loaning its expertise to the implementation, monitoring and recruitment for the programme – a partnership that has been described as a “natural fit” by Minister of Labour and National Insurance, Hon. Shane Gibson, who remarked on the common interests held by all stakeholders in ensuring that the CSJP has its intended impact on youth unemployment and crime reduction.

“The Department of Labour is delighted to be on board, loaning our expertise to this very important project,” said Minister Gibson. “For over a decade our youth have been in the midst of an unemployment crisis not only because our economy is not producing enough jobs for the Bahamian people, but also because many of our youth lack some of the requisite skills and knowledge necessary to take advantage of the employment opportunities that are available. With this programme we are seeking to create a transformational process that will empower our young people and equip them with the tools they need to be successful in the modern Bahamas.”

The Employability and Employment Training Programme is just one of the four components of The Bahamas’ innovative IDB-funded Citizen Security and Justice Programme, which has been praised for its progressive approach to crime reduction. The Bahamas has taken a novel approach to its CSJP that includes the aforementioned Youth Employability training, as well as the construction of community centers in high crime communities throughout New Providence, major changes to the Criminal Justice System, and the implementation of major reforms to the prison system in an effort to reduce recidivism. While each of these initiatives are powerful on their own, the combined impact of these changes is expected to contribute to a statistically observable and lasting reduction in crime.

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