The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has once again opened its doors to support the needs of 34 youths across St. Catherine, Kingston & St. Andrew in accessing and completing on-the-job work experience and training amidst the COVID-19 spike.

The programme, which caters to youth 17-24 years, commenced on July 12 and ended on August 7, 2021, with 11 being retained by their employees. The AHF received 520 applications for this year’s Youth Summer Employment Programme, and arranged partnerships with 17 organizations to place these participants.

The adherence to the COVID-19 protocols allowed for weekly testing of the participants and strict monitoring which gave them the confidence to approach the working world and to be productive contributors to their place of employment.

Caribbean Regional Director of the AHF, Dr. Kevin Harvey, says that while the programme seeks to impart life skills, develop employment skills and assist in empowerment; it creates future employment opportunities and promotes growth amidst difficult situations.

“Other objectives of the programme are to ensure that participants develop critical employability and life skills, financial literacy skills, and financial independence by earning an income to support back to school and any other economic opportunity which supports their empowerment,” Dr. Harvey further explained.

The Institute of Law and Economics (ILE) offered mandatory training in leadership, advocacy, entrepreneurship, financial management & literacy, life skills, intimate partner violence, and sexual reproductive health during the programme.

Among the partners that have extended the employment of their summer workers are Spectrum Insurance Brokers, Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL), and National Integrity Action (NIA).

CEO of ILE, Dwayne Guztmer, says the main focus has always been education, training, and nurturing young minds. He states that the youth summer employment programme, therefore, was in line with the company’s vision.

“We found the participants to be eager and receptive, and they have served the programme well and will bring value to any place they work in the future,” Guztmer said.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation summer employment programme is also in support of its global Girl’s Act Programme which strives to motivate youth and promote active decision making. Lead Coordinator of Girls Act, Alexia Lamonth, says she is extremely pleased with the commendation of the partnership and the contribution the youth participant is making to the work environment.