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While 2014 was a breakthrough year for the overall YUTE programme, it was especially significant for our flagship initiative, YUTE Build. As the organisation entered a critical two-year growth phase, YUTE Build was strengthened, streamlined, expanded and strategically re-positioned to meet changing labour market needs.

This innovative programme provides training, certification and work experience in General Construction, as well as personal development, employability, and counseling to young people between the ages of 18 and 29, from more than 30 vulnerable inner city or underserved communities.  In its second phase, YUTE Build II was expanded to train more than double the number of participants originally facilitated – 100 compared to 43. The duration of the programme has been extended from 12 to 18 months. This included four months of remedial literacy and numeracy instruction at the onset for those participants in need, as well as four months on-the-job experience, which ran concurrently with vocational training. In addition, the most basic  level of training (Level1) was discontinued due to an over-supply of entry-level skills in the construction industry. Participants in that stream have been facilitated in upgrading their qualifications to enter the Level 2 training programme, while participants who completed Level 1 certification in the first phase of the programme, matriculated to Level 3. 

YUTE Build is a dynamic public-private sector partnership between YUTE, the National Housing Trust, HEART NTA and JEEP. Its mandate to provide youth development through training and employment is especially relevant to national development in light of the skills which will be required very shortly to build the country’s planned Logistics Hub. These need to be in place to facilitate the major infrastructural investment which will see Jamaica becoming the transshipment and air cargo logistics hub of the Western Hemisphere. According to HEART NTA’s most recent Report on Skills Areas in Demand, Jamaica’s Logistics Hub will be the Caribbean’s strategic handling point for bulk commodities, as well as the Latin American and Caribbean centre for aviation-related maintenance repair and overhaul and ship repair and dry docking.


YUTE Build 2 was officially launched by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller on Friday February 7, 2014, when she was one of the signatories to the second Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the National Housing Trust (NHT), the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, the Ministry of Education, HEART Trust NTA, and YUTE.  Major Government funding through the NHT amounted to $32 million. The HEART Trust NTA continued to provide vital training and certification for YUTE Build participants at its Academies, while the Government’s Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP) undertook to arrange apprenticeship posts for participants.

Noting that the YUTE Build Programme would have a ripple effect for generations to come, the Prime Minister commended YUTE on the expansion and improvements in YUTE Build 2. She acknowledged the Government’s duty to ensure young people are adequately prepared, and congratulated the private sector, non-governmental organisations, faith-based organisations, the NHT and other state agencies for working together to make the programme a success. She added:

“By imparting new skills to our youth, we are seeking to engage them in the national productivity drive. Equally important, we want them to develop and maintain a sense of self-worth which is essential to their physical, mental and social well-being.

YUTE Chairman Joseph Matalon pointed out that the YUTE programme has become an important case study for the success that can be achieved through public/private partnerships in leveraging resources and management skills to optimize the impact of national and community development programmes and interventions. He stressed:

“It is time that we all, the private sector, public sector and non-governmental organisations, forge greater synergies to strategise and cooperate on initiatives geared to adjust the skills sets of the unemployed to meet the demands of the labour market. In turn, we can reduce the cultural and socio-economic susceptibility of Jamaica’s inner-city youth to the attractions of crime.”

YUTE Build 2 recruited 100 young men and women, assessed their skill levels and provided remedial instruction for those whose academic skills were in need of upgrading. Once they passed HEART NTA entrance examinations, they were placed for specialised training at the HEART College of Construction Services, and HEART NTA’s Garmex and Rockfort Academies. Personal development, counseling and other areas of support have been provided at five workshops throughout the year, including an initial residential orientation camp, and a special Christmas outing to the Holywell Recreation Park for 40 outstanding participants.

During 2014 on the job placements were arranged for a total of 52 participants: 10 with Food For the Poor, five each with Telfi Construction and WIHCON, 30 with the Mobile Reserve of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and three with the Kingston & St. Andrew Corporation.

Attrition continued to be a significant challenge facing the YUTE Build  programme, with a number of participants withdrawing for personal reasons including getting a job, losing interest, and in one case, becoming pregnant. A smaller number were dismissed for disciplinary reasons, after an attempt at counselling.

By the end of 2014, a total of 85 participants – 68 males and 17 females – were enrolled in the 18 month YUTE Build 2 programme. Those in Level 2 were scheduled to graduate in mid-2015, and those in Level 3 at the end of 2015.

YUTE Build participants had their training experiences enriched by involvement in a number of special projects. For example, 15 participants took part in a short Fight for Peace project, 30 participated in an Exchange with Northeastern University, 33 contributed to the International Coastal Clean Up effort in downtown Kingston (all highlighted in other sections of this Report), and almost all benefited from a unique project at Harmon Barracks, described below.

Harmon Barracks Extended Labour Day Project

All YUTE Build 2 students were invited to take part in the National Housing Trust’s annual Labour Day project, which for 2014 was a $9 million initiative to fully renovate five of the barracks serving the Mobile Reserve of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF). More than 80 participants contributed voluntary service on Labour Day itself (May 23), and 30 of them were able to take part in the extended project, which lasted over three months. This served as valuable on the job training, and provided welcome income earning opportunities as the NHT paid the youngsters. They were guided and supervised by the Project Management Unit of the Mobile Reserve, playing an active part in all aspects of the project. It included almost completely rebuilding the barracks, treating them, installing new furniture and fittings, and landscaping the front of the compound.

Happily, there have been many positive additional spinoffs. The JCF has called upon YUTE Build to work on another building project on the same site, and has provided additional on the job training for participants at the Police Commissioner’s office and at the Central Police Station. The positive working relationship established has also resulted in five YUTE Build participants being recommended to apply for District Constable positions. Even more far reaching is the fact that friendships have been forged between young people from communities often at odds with the security forces, and many members of the JCF, helping to build positive police community relations.