When the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) and the National Youth Service (NYS) initiated the Events Management Training and Employment Programme, the objectives included creating viable employment and development opportunities for young people in arts development and events management, however, the Programme has exceeded expectations creating second chances for youths who were sitting at home idly.
With a ratio of 28 males to 22 females, the Programme created on the job training and exposure in areas of Events Planning, Events Budget Preparation and Monitoring, Customer Relations, Elements of Production, Basic Décor, Set Design & Construction, First Aid and Fire Safety and Basic Protocol for youths who recently completed six months employment with the JCDC.
“The Programme was another opportunity, a second chance for these youths to gain on the job training, improve on weaknesses and to network and create greater chances for employment. Eighty percent of the youngsters had never worked before or had a structured work experience and the growth that they experienced is commendable” explains Elizabeth Smith, one of the Programme Coordinators from the JCDC.
Ms. Smith expresses that close to the end of the Programme which ran from April to October 2014, the Events Production Assistants (EPA) ages 17 to 24 years had concerns of what would be their next step, but the support has not ended with their employment tenure. She explains that close contact is kept with the EPAs and that efforts are ongoing to assist them with job placement. Some of the Events Production Assistants will also be engaged by the JCDC on a contractual basis.
In an atmosphere where the Government is encouraging young persons to explore entrepreneurship, one Events Production Assistant has responded and explains that it was his experience in the Events Management Programme that inspired him to form his own company, One Link Corporation. Still in its startup phase, Tyrone Watts, who hails from Portland, explains that the company staffs four persons part time who provide décor services, catering for small functions and emcee services. Other EPAs have gone on to pursue certificate programmes in Events Management at the University of Technology and an additional five persons are currently pursuing tertiary education at universities and colleges across the island.
Where does the Programme go from here? JCDC Executive Director, Delroy Gordon indicates that the JCDC is desirous of continuing the programme and is currently in dialogue with the NYS to explore its continuation. Earlier this year, the JCDC and the NYS signed a Memorandum of Understanding signaling their commitment to the implementing and development of the Events Management Programme which Mr. Gordon notes has exceeded its expectations.
“The youngsters contributed tremendously towards the Jamaica Festival celebrations across the island this year and some have gained and created employment in events and décor management” Mr. Gordon notes.
For university student, Kemar Rose, he was initially hesitant about participating in the Programme but “being at home during that period I changed my mind and that one decision made a whole world of difference. The priceless experience and knowledge I have gained has given me greater insight into the function of the JCDC and I am now more appreciative of Jamaica’s culture.”
Ms. Smith indicated that the Programme has achieved several objectives including evident behavioral and attitude transformation which family members of the Events Production Assistants have expressed gratitude for.
“It was not just a workplace for them. It was a home which provided some kind of stability in their lives which was in part missing” Ms. Smith notes.