Prime Minister, Dr the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, is promising radical changes to improve the impact of government initiated programmes to promote youth empowerment and development.
Dr Mitchell who will assume responsibility for Youth Development when the recently announced reshuffle of government ministers takes effect on 5 October 2020, met Wednesday with Minister Kate Lewis and other top officials of the Ministry of Youth Development.
Speaking passionately about one of the ministry’s flagship initiatives, the IMANI Programme, Dr Mitchell said IMANI trainees should not maintain that status beyond 2 years. He sounded the warning that ministries and businesses will lose the benefit of IMANI trainees if they cannot find adequate placement for them after a specified period.
The Prime Minister said, “It is not fair to our young people that we label them as IMANI trainees for all these years. There has been a blatant misuse of the services of these young people in both the public and private sectors. In many instances, the trainees are doing the work of full-time staff but they are not recognised or rewarded for such. As Prime Minister, I accept part of the responsibility for this because it happened under my watch, but going forward, we have to do better. We have to provide hope, empowerment and a greater sense of security to the young people of this country. I promise you, there will be some radical changes.”
Dr Mitchell acknowledged that the Ministry of Youth Development has undertaken several ambitious initiatives, but he cited the need for continuous assessment. He said, “Many initiatives are well-intentioned but we also have to consider whether they are optimal, in terms of implementation and impact. There will be pitfalls along the way and we have to periodically assess these and make the necessary adjustments. How much we invest cannot be our only consideration. If the right structures and personnel are not in place, we will not achieve optimal results.”
The Ministry of Youth Development has already embarked on an assessment of all persons within the IMANI Programme. The Prime Minister welcomed this and also called for periodic reports on the status of IMANI trainees.
Dr Mitchell also underscored the importance of youth empowerment in the overall development of the country. He said, “The data will help to determine the next step as the ministry seeks to improve the impact of its programmes. Despite the challenges that exist, as leaders, we have a responsibility to do what we can to help our young people.”
The Prime Minister also assured ministry staff of government’s commitment to address the matter of job security.
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