Ur­ban youth get­ting sec­ond chance

Jamaica Gleaner - - GROWTH & JOBS -

TWENTY YOUNG per­sons from Cor­po­rate Area in­ner-city com­mu­ni­ties are be­ing fi­nan­cially em­pow­ered through a pro­gramme which is trans­form­ing their lives.

They were par­tic­i­pants in the Change Your Fu­ture (CYF) pro­gramme, which started in Jan­uary. It is spear­headed by the Women’s Re­source & Out­reach Cen­tre Lim­ited (WROC), in as­so­ci­a­tion with the Vi­o­lence Pre­ven­tion Al­liance (VPA) ini­tia­tive, with sup­port from Ja­maica Na­tional Build­ing So­ci­ety (JNBS).

The young peo­ple, whose for­mal ed­u­ca­tion was dis­rupted, re­ceived life skills and prepara­tory train­ing for the Hu­man Em­ploy­ment and Re­source Train­ing Trust/Na­tional Train­ing Agency pro­grammes, for which they have had a pass rate of more than 90 per cent.

“We are pleased with the out­come,” said Ra­mone Beck­ford, youth mar­ket­ing and dig­i­tal me­dia of­fi­cer, JNBS. His unit part­nered with WROC as part of a drive to fi­nan­cially em­power the young­sters.

“The out­stand­ing nur­tur­ing at WROC clearly sup­ported the 100 per cent pass rate in their English test,” Beck­ford said, adding that “we are also very happy with the pass rate of more than 90 per cent in math­e­mat­ics, to which we be­lieve we made a con­tri­bu­tion.”

A 2011 sur­vey by Dr Dawn El­liott, as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor in the De­part­ment of Economics at Texas Chris­tian Uni­ver­sity, showed that ap­prox­i­mately one-third of the Ja­maican adult pop­u­la­tion do not own bank ac­counts. They end up us­ing cash or non-bank pay­ment out­lets at rel­a­tively high costs and can­not ac­com­plish so­phis­ti­cated trans­ac­tions.

“You can­not take full ad­van­tage of our coun­try’s eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties with­out be­ing fi­nan­cially lit­er­ate,” Beck­ford said. “There­fore, learn­ing about sav­ing and get­ting a bank ac­count are some of the first steps on the road to fi­nan­cial in­de­pen­dence.”

The JN Wise As­pir­ing Youth (WAY) pro­gramme, which he man­ages, pre­vi­ously fo­cused on pro­vid­ing ac­cess to fi­nan­cial ser­vices for young adults at ter­tiary-level in­sti­tu­tions. Beck­ford said, “We recog­nised the need to ex­tend our­selves to serve young peo­ple in the wider com­mu­nity to re­duce the dis­pro­por­tion of fi­nan­cial ex­clu­sion.”

Shan­non Robinson, a par­tic­i­pant in the CYF train­ing, was one of the first to open an ac­count through the WAY pro­gramme.

“I learnt how to make a bud­get and how to ap­proach sav­ing,” Robinson said. “I feel that I can han­dle my money much bet­ter now.”

Since leav­ing Cum­ber­land High School at 10th grade in 2014, she said, “I haven’t had a bank ac­count and I wasn’t sav­ing.”

Hers is the first of two streams of young adults to re­ceive six months of

CFY train­ing. Re­cruit­ment for the sec­ond group starts this month.

The par­tic­i­pants, who are be­tween 18-24 years old, re­side in the com­mu­ni­ties of Lyn­d­hurst, Green­wich Park, Ar­nett Gar­dens, Tor­ring­ton Park and Jones Town in south St An­drew.

TAUGHT ES­SEN­TIALS OF SAV­ING

Prior to open­ing their bank ac­counts, the CYF trainees par­tic­i­pated in a fi­nan­cial em­pow­er­ment ses­sion led by Rose Miller, grants man­ager, JN Foun­da­tion. She taught the es­sen­tials of sav­ing, bud­get­ing and fi­nan­cial plan­ning to the young­sters.

“What­ever your in­come, you need to spend less than you earn and start to save the dif­fer­ence,” Miller stated. “This is the ba­sic re­quire­ment for get­ting in con­trol of one’s fi­nan­cial fu­ture”.

The CYF pro­gramme par­tic­i­pants are be­ing trained at the WROC head­quar­ters on Beech­wood Av­enue in St An­drew.

Serv­ing the sur­round­ing in­ner-city com­mu­ni­ties and parts of St Thomas, WROC’s on­go­ing goal is the pro­mo­tion of gen­der equal­ity and the ad­vance­ment of women and young peo­ple.

Rachaeal Allen, the CYF fa­cil­i­ta­tor at WROC, pointed out that the fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy train­ing was a valu­able tool for the pro­gramme par­tic­i­pants, who were be­ing pre­pared aca­dem­i­cally to ac­quire life skills needed to be gain­fully em­ployed or op­er­ate their own busi­nesses.

“Many did not save when they started the train­ing course,” the re­cent grad­u­ate of the Edna Man­ley Col­lege of the Vis­ual and Per­form­ing Arts said. “Now, they will be able to man­age their fi­nances as they move from train­ing into the work­force.”

The CYF fa­cil­i­ta­tor added that “sev­eral of the trainees have busi­ness ideas, which they plan to de­velop; there­fore, the fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy ses­sions pro­vided a nec­es­sary foun­da­tion for them to ful­fil their am­bi­tions”.

CON­TRIB­UTED

Rose Miller (right), grants man­ager, JN Foun­da­tion, shares her views with Rachaeal Allen, the Change Your Fu­ture fa­cil­i­ta­tor at the Women’s Re­source & Out­reach Cen­tre Lim­ited.

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