Helping vulnerable youth secure jobs in high demand sectors of the economy is the top priority of a new partnership between the International Youth Foundation (IYF) and the T.A. Marryshow Community College (TAMCC), a leading educational institute in Grenada. Working together, IYF and TAMCC provide job training, internship opportunities and job placement assistance to 250 at-risk youth, with the expectation that 50% of the graduates will be employed after completing the program. In Grenada, more than half the people living below the poverty line are under the age of 20, and nearly one in three youth are unemployed.  

The Grenada-based program, which is being implemented by TAMCC’s School of Continuing Education (SCE), is part of the Caribbean Youth Empowerment Program (CYEP), an IYF employability initiative funded through the US Agency for International Development/Barbados & Eastern Caribbean Office that seeks to address some of the region’s long-term social and economic challenges facing its young people. Deepening the understanding of what works in youth employment programs is a key goal of the initiative and the focus of a recent workshop for CYEP partners.      

“This partnership with IYF and TAMCC marks a new beginning in the Eastern Caribbean for USAID,” said Mr. James Goggin, USAID Representative, Barbados & Eastern Caribbean. “Through this program, we can strengthen vocational education, invest in underserved youth, and promote healthy lifestyles.” Dr. Jeffrey F. Britton, the Principal of TAMCC, underscored the many benefits of the program, which he said will “address the needs of young people, the private sector, and society at large.”    

The Hon. Franka Alexis-Bernadine, Minister for Education and Human Resource Development highlighted the skills gap in Grenada—especially the lack of personal and life skills development among youth. While the Ministry is working to address these issues, Ms. Alexis-Bernadine said she looked forward to using the positive results and lessons learned from the CYEP project to make further progress.  

Through the Project, trainees gain competency-based vocational training, with a focus on preparing graduates for jobs that are in demand in the local economy such as tourism and agriculture.  Participants are being trained as tour guides, food processors, waiters and bar tenders as well as for jobs in landscaping and vegetable production. Participants  also take courses in life and job readiness skills that focus on communication, team work and preparing for interviews. Trainees acquire practical work experience through internships.   

CYEP projects have now been launched in Antigua and Barbuda, as well as Grenada. In order to facilitate the exchange of experiences and good practices among implementing organizations, IYF recently hosted a three-day Orientation Workshop in Kingston, Jamaica. Participants included CYEP partners from the different projects, representatives from USAID and the Inter-American Development Bank, and local businesses who hire youth. “The young people engaged in these programs represent a tremendous opportunity to advance this region’s economic growth and development,” said Scott LeFevre, Program Director, Employability, at IYF. “This workshop was designed to ensure that all our partners have the tools and shared learnings to make such progress possible.”