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Oct 30, 2002

Gov’t counselling targets unemployed youths

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The Youth for the Future Initiative is better known for its grand gestures than any major accomplishments…but success in turning young lives around is invariably measured in millimetres and not miles. Today News 5′s Jacqueline Woods looked in on one of the initiative’s first small steps in what may be a very long journey.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

Nineteen-year-old Lloyd Diego is like many other unemployed city youths who spend much of their time either walking the streets or hanging out on the corners. It’s not certain just how many young people are out of school and out of a job, but a drive through the city gives you a good idea of just how serious the problem really is.

Lloyd Diego, 19 years old

“Nuff young boys are out there stealing, check. I no really into that thing you know. I just need a little job right now and thing check.”

“Things are bad right now, right now I can’t get a job and thing, check. I just need a little job. I gawn talk to the minister and they tell me let me come back and thing, check. “

Jacqueline Woods

“So, like what you do during the day? You just come out to the street corner and chill?”

Lloyd Diego

“Mass (chill) out and thing, just mass out and thing check.”

…With nothing to do but time on their hands many people in similar circumstances gravitate toward crime or petty drug dealing just to make ends meet.

The basketball court is one alternative, but the fun doesn’t last long, and eventually the players will be looking for ways to survive…even if that means putting their own lives at risk.

John Henry, 21 year old

“They always say that there are jobs but we noh see no jobs. Sometimes we can’t go to a store and say take an interview and they give us a job. They want police record you know, and appearance and self-discipline and some of the youths don’t have that. So it mek it difficult when we goh to a store and ask for a job. But out here on the street, the government can still help us get work fi we out yah; chop the street side or dig the drain you know, it will still come up to the same thing as though we are working in the sun hot all day. Because look at what we the do back yah, have fun playing in the park and thing. But if a job come by, hell yeah, we wah tek it to make some money out here cause we need some money.”

The challenge of helping high risk teens is a job government hopes to address through The Youth for the Future initiative. Today they launched a three month programme to help unemployed young people better prepare themselves for life in the work force.

Keino Quallo, Youth Development Officer

“I think young people need to have a foundation. The first step in trying to achieve success for themselves is basically either to get into the educational system or into the work force.”

The personal development workshop caters to thirty-four youths from across the city.

Tanya Ford, 20 years old

“Well, personally for me, I think it is very difficult to get a job. For almost half a year I’ve been trying to get a job and it’s very hard to get a job if you don’t have a tertiary level education. When you go to the places they usually require a high school diploma, a bachelor’s degree or an associate’s degree or something like that. And if you don’t have that it’s difficult for somebody like me to get a job.”

Allister Barrow, 21 years old

“I’ve been looking for a job for like three to four months and up to now I still don’t have any, so I have to come into this programme and after this programme they will find a job for me.”

Jacqueline Woods

“Yessenia what are you hoping to get out of the workshop?”

Yessenia Velasquez, 17 years old

“Well a good education, maybe a good job, because they say we wah have some good jobs here.”

Jacqueline Woods

“Has it been difficult for you getting a job?”

Yessenia Velasquez, 17 years old

“Yeah. It’s difficult to find a job in Belize, you have to try your best.”

Carolyn Genitty, who is facilitating the workshop, says the business community must do its part for the programme to succeed.

Carolyn Genitty, Facilitator, Personal Dev. Workshop

“There are a lot of problems. To be real honest, there are challenges that we have to face and take it on, not as individuals, but society working as a unit. And understanding that, young people understand relationships and if they come up to you and you are not welcoming then you become a barrier in where they want to go.”

Following the workshop, organizers say they will try to provide jobs for the youths or help them to further their education.

Keino Quallo

“Since it opened up one young person has already got a job. We plan to place them in as much job opportunities as is possible and we also plan to form somewhat of an apprenticeship programme where we just place them within the job force and within the different industries out there where the business people are willing to provide for them.”

The workshop is scheduled to run through January. Jacqueline Woods for News 5.

If you are interested in joining the sessions, please call the Youth for the Future office at 227-6106.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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