CASTRIES, St Lucia, (OECS) — On March 22, 2021, the USAID/OECS Juvenile Justice Reform Project (JJRP) started the second phase of its Digital Jobs Initiative, with 141 youth including youth in conflict with the law, youth currently housed at custodial rehabilitation facilities, and unemployed young people. Through this training opportunity, young people will learn how to find opportunities, conduct business, and succeed in the digital marketplace. They will gain new knowledge and skills in graphic design, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), blogging, web development, social media marketing, voice acting, how to get paid to make calls, transcription, and how to get started with freelancing.
Recognizing opportunities for Caribbean nationals in the multi-million dollar online freelancing industry and the increasing number of online jobs available, JJRP and Internet Income Jamaica Ltd. developed a partnership to implement the Digital Jobs initiative. This initiative provides digital entrepreneurship training to young people from 16 to 29 years of age in the six independent OECS Member States of Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Vincent and the Grenadines. For the second phase, a robust mentorship element has been integrated, which will provide guidance and support to the youth participants.
The first phase of the Digital Jobs Initiative was conducted from October to December with 35 young people graduating. Ashaki Cochrane from Antigua and Barbuda, one of the graduates from the first phase had been an unemployed mother, trying desperately to make ends meet prior to joining the program. While still enrolled in the training, Ashaki advertised her skills in her community and online, and was able to earn EC$740 over two months, creating flyers and stickers for clients.
Sharing a bit about her experience, Ashaki said that she thoroughly enjoyed her time spent in the programme and if offered, she would happily enrol in another similar programme with this group; reflected: “This programme has opened my eyes to so many opportunities I didn’t know existed, and I am very grateful for the time, patience and support I received.”
Speaking on the benefits and value of this programme, USAID/OECS JJRP II technical specialist, Shahini Gravillis, said:
“Given the limited job opportunities across the OECS for young people, we aim to be a part of the solution by empowering our young people with the skills necessary to be gainfully employed by obtaining access to the digital world. This cohort of 141 young people contributes to the achievement of the third pillar of the JJRP II, that of reintegration. Reintegration is a critical step towards providing the foundation for a child to gain stability and consistency in life post their experience in the justice system. To this end, youth from the target population received the training and expertise necessary to gain employment for financial sustainability and security. “