Several of the 35 volunteers from the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) programme, who worked at the 2018 JMA Expo have already benefited from their participation, says programme manager Jerome Cowans.
The HOPE programme is an initiative that was launched by Prime Minister Andrew Holness on May 8, 2017 targeting struggling youths of ages 18-24, who are not employed or enrolled in a school or programme of training.
The 35 volunteers were assembled from a pool of 1000 trained personnel who were ready for placements. They assisted the event’s organizers with coordination, provided general direction for patrons as well as interfacing with patrons and business owners throughout.
The four-day expo, which ran from April 19-22, was held at the National Arena and the neighboring National Indoors Sports Centre at the Independence Park Sports Complex in Kingston.
Speaking with Jamaica Today, Cowans said that the volunteers have already landed job interviews after impressing.
“A lot of them stayed on after their shifts ended and they learned a lot from some of the brightest business minds in Jamaica. Many of these persons ended up inviting these volunteers for job interviews starting next week, so it was a thrilling and productive experience for them,” he said.
The volunteers received a stipend of J$1,500. They came from several inner city communities in Kingston namely Tivoli Gardens, Parade Gardens and Gregory Park, in Portmore, St Catherine.
There was one volunteer who came from St Mary.
Cowans added that many of the volunteers are from very poor backgrounds and the JMA Expo, which had over 30,000 people in attendance and six hundred participants from 20 different countries, was a perfect platform for the volunteers to sell themselves on the job market.
“I am a Jamaica House fellow, which is an apprenticeship program and it is really giving young people an opportunity in life. This program is dear to my heart because I know how transformative it can be and the expo was a perfect platform for the volunteers to show what they have learned. Many of them did just that,” Cowans said.
The HOPE initiative is headed by Lieutenant Colonel Martin Rickman, who is on the secondment of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF).