In addition to being Parents Month, November is also Youth Month. The theme for this year’s commemoration is ‘#NotLeavingItToChance.’ As part of its outreach to young people aged 15-24, the Ministry of Youth and Culture started a series of radio messages encouraging positive behavioural change. At the same time, some messages seek to encourage young people to think positively about career goals and professional development. Other activities include Pon Di Corna reasoning sessions with Youth Minister Lisa Hanna and a number of youth-service organisations as well as a youth conference, and a Youth Enterprise Challenge, where young persons will be able to pitch their great ideas for a chance of gaining start-up capital.
Here are five facts about youth in Jamaica.
- According to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), Jamaica’s current youth unemployment rate is currently 38.3 per cent as at July 2014. This figure is close to three times the national average, which is 13.8 per cent. The age ranges measured are 14-19 and 20-24 years.
- One of the main organisations working to reduce youth unemployment is the National Youth Service (NYS). Originally established in 1973, the NYS was re-launched in 1995 amidst major concerns about the high youth unemployment, academic underachievement and lack of training opportunities, which tends to give rise to anti-social behaviour. The NYS offers a number of training, employment and financial assistance programmes.
- The National Youth Policy (1994) represented Jamaica’s first comprehensive policy on youth. This was developed from the Draft National Youth Policy (1985) and the 1992 paper, “Vision of Youth.” The policy is currently being revised, following the 2010 Jamaica National Youth Survey, which provided a holistic profile of young people age 15 to 24 years, and seeks to aid in the strengthening of existing programmes designed for youth development throughout the country. It includes a focus on unattached youth; young people living and working on the street as well as those in State care; young people with disabilities; entrepreneurial and employment opportunities; spirituality and values, among other things.
- The National Youth Survey also indicated that almost 60 per cent of Jamaica’s young people viewed migration as the answer to their desire to access opportunities for education and employment.
- According to a 2010 report from the CARICOM Commission on Youth Development, homicide was the leading cause of death among males aged 15-24, at 19.8 per cent. This was followed by HIV/AIDS, 13.6 per cent, and motor vehicle accidents at 9.2 per cent. The UNDP Caribbean Human Development Report 2012 stated that Jamaica has the highest number of youth convicted of crime in the region.