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Minister touts programmes for the youth


Sheria Brathwaite

Minister touts programmes for the youth
Minister of Youth Dwight Sutherland addresses the St Michael South branch of the Barbados Labour Party. (Picture by Shanice King)

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The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment rolled out a number of programmes geared toward young people so they can contribute more to national development.

On Sunday night during his address at a St Michael South Barbados Labour Party branch meeting at the Graydon Sealy Secondary School, Minister of Youth Dwight Sutherland said there would come a day when young people would have to lead Barbados and his ministry was committed to ensuring they had the necessary skills to do so.

“Fifty years down the road you would see someone who is a teenager now coming to represent you . . . so we need to give young people the opportunity to learn skills to empower them to own their own businesses; we need to train young people for leadership positions in this country,” he said.

It is against this background that he said his ministry was planning to use community centres, which he said were underutilised for several years, as pinnacles of community engagement and advancement.

He said community centres functioned not only as venues to hold social events, but they played a critical role as safe spaces for young people to take part in educational programmes, learn about community spirit and develop a community-driven mindset.

He said: “We saw an increase in crime as a result because the young people had nowhere to go; community centres were no longer being used as social and recreational hubs.

“Community centres . . . did not only have dances back in my time, they had programmes where the ladies went to learn to knit . . . that would help them earn a way of living. You know how many people started businesses from going to community centres and learning to do these things? So we are igniting the small business sector and utilising the community centres to do certain things.”

Sutherland said his ministry had established programmes to help the annual 4 000 school leavers improve their skill set.

Minister touts programmes for the youth
A section of the audience at the BLP St Michael South branch meeting. (Picture by Shanice King)

He boasted about the Getting to Get Hired programme, which involves several young people learning about photovoltaic systems and electric car maintenance at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology.

He said this programme targeted students who left school without any certificates.

Sutherland also spoke about his ministry’s Pathways programme which is a joint venture between Government and the private sector that involves giving teenagers job attachments for six months. It was also used to recruit young people to the Royal Barbados Police Force.

More than 3 000 students were trained in information technology in his ministry’s Community Technology training programme and about 200 teens were trained in the Youth Achieving Results programme, which was done in partnership with the National Cultural Foundation.

Sutherland added that Government spent $30 000 in an entrepreneurship programme conducted at Her Majesty’s Prison and many women and men learnt how to do garden maintenance utilising modern technology, among other skills.

He said his ministry was also coordinating a new programme centred around horse racing. (SB)