Now a new program, specifically targeting “at risk youth” in the local communities of St. Kitts is expected to provide new skills to the participants while also playing its part in the reduction of crime.
More importantly however, explained an official associated with the project, if successful, the initiative could also help to make more locally produced food items available on the market.
The Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP), as the program is called, is believed to be funded by the Sugar Industry Diversification Fund (SIDF) and has been designed in two parts – hydroponics food crop production and life skills training.
A government release indicated that a total of 35 young men so far have benefited from the instructions about self-improvement. They have also participated in counselling sessions.
Minister responsible for the project, Marcella Liburd explained that each participant was required to apply for a position. In the end approximately 50 persons took the effort to apply but only 30 actually moved on to participate. Most of them, said Liburd were unemployed at the time of applying.
She shared that although young men currently participating in the programme are satisfied with it; it is still a work in progress. She also said the greater response thus far has been from males.
“…I don’t think some of them really understand the opportunity that they’re getting” said Minister Liburd. There are some engaged in the sessions on self-improvement and counselling. If they don’t get over that hump, they would not be able to use this opportunity that is presented to them,” stated Ms. Liburd.
Liburd also assured that she tried to get women involved in the program because it was not just for men. She said she spoke to young women in the communities, urging them to apply but only two or three of them did apply and none of them showed up for the orientation so it just happened that it turns out to be all men now enrolled.
Some of the participants have given early indication that their vegetable or agricultural projects are showing signs of potential but more effort is needed.