I knew it wouldn’t be long before Mr. Tyrone Wilson came up with something creative and new. In fact, I fully expected it. The YUTE Lens Support Program at the University of Technology (UTech) is in many ways an extension of what the President and CEO of eMedia Interactive Limited has been doing for some time – empowering and motivating young people. Now, with the support of the Australian Government and the private sector, it has taken shape. The launch took place last Friday.
In Jamaican patois, youth is pronounced “yute.” Youth Upliftment Through Employment (YUTE) is a three-year-old private-public sector skills training initiative chaired by former head of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica Joseph M. Matalon. As we’re probably all aware (and Mr. Matalon reminded us), Jamaicans under thirty years old constitute three-quarters of the perpetrators of violence and crime in Jamaica; and our citizens aged 25 – 29 years old are at greatest risk of becoming homicide victims. High levels of youth unemployment in under-privileged areas such as our inner cities contribute to this tragic state of affairs, of course. The economic costs of violent crime are huge – equivalent to 3.2 per cent of Jamaica’s Gross Domestic Product. So the YUTE programme makes sense, focusing on relevant and useful training for young Jamaicans living in Kingston and St. Catherine’s inner-city communities. The ten-week YUTE Lens Support program will train 40 participants between April and June, and 40 more between July and September, running concurrently with the eMedia iVu tv’s 2014 production season.
Now, if you read my last article about Tyrone Wilson, you will recall that eMedia Interactive is a new media company, headed and staffed by young people and based at UTech’s Technology and Innovation Centre. iVu tv has already employed disadvantaged youths on both sides of the lens in its humorous series “Squaddy,” (that’s a nickname for a policeman). Now a much larger group of young people will learn the skills associated with video, camerawork and film and television production. I understand that the program will continue over the next few years. This will give a serious boost to Jamaica’s creative industries – and provide a good income-earning source for the trained youth.
By the way, as Jamaica’s Honorary Consul for Australia Marjory Kennedy pointed out at the launch, this is not the first time the Australian Government has supported YUTE programs since November 2010. In particular, it has provided funding for YUTE’s Pre-Skills Learn and Earn program with a special focus on literacy. Importantly, that program created 850 job opportunities – long and short-term.
The horizons are narrow for many unemployed young people in neighborhoods, where resources are few and inspiration is lacking. These young Jamaicans never want pity or handouts; they have tremendous energy; they seek the opportunity to lift themselves up. YUTE Lens Support, with the support of Mr. Wilson and his young team, offers that opportunity. I am so looking forward to hearing more about how the program progresses, and to seeing the fruits of their labor in due course.
I wish the trainees all the best of luck.