Urban youth getting second chance
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”.
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.