Declaring the first phase of the new Building Blocks youth entrepreneurship programme a success, Minister of Youth and Community Empowerment Adrian Forde has announced that work will soon begin on the project’s infrastructure.
Once the approval process is finalized with the relevant regulatory agencies, Forde promised that communities known for negative behaviours will be transformed into attractive areas of business managed by young people making positive contributions to their personal, family and community development.
Forde was speaking at the closing and awards ceremony of the Building Blocks Entrepreneurship and Life Skills Development Training course at the Parkinson Resource Centre, The Pine.
Building Blocks is the youth ministry’s community-based social intervention that seeks to address rising youth unemployment with entrepreneurship training and technical assistance. The programme is intended to spur new venture creation among potential ‘blockenpreneurs’ from Bonnett’s, Ivy and The Pine, St Michael, and Silver Hill, Christ Church.
The Minister noted that in a programme that was designed to accommodate an average of 25 people at each of its four locations, the fact that the project was able to attract over 145 participants, speaks volumes of the participants interest and in so doing, and dispels the myth that youth who congregate on blocks have no interest in development.
“Let me assure you that we are moving steadfastly to expand the Building Blocks Project and as early as Wednesday next week, I will be joined by technocrats from my Ministry and other stakeholder agencies to examine additional locations where the project can be developed.
“This process will continue until we have identified suitable locations in every constituency in Barbados. We will replicate the training model that was applied to the first four blocks and similar training will be provided to prospective beneficiaries at other locations.”
Participation in the entrepreneurial and life skills development training is not restricted to youth who congregate on blocks, but is also opened to youth who have successfully completed training programmes offered by the Youth Development Programme and the Community Development Department and other agencies, he said.
He stressed that the idea was to expose as many young people as possible to the opportunities afforded through self-employment and entrepreneurship, as to assist them in their personal development.
“Indeed youth in this country will be seeing a resurgence of opportunities, a greater participation in national development initiatives, a renewed acceptance of their central position in the evolution of a new and caring society, access to resources to realise their dreams and ultimately a better quality of life themselves and their families,” Forde declared.
Acknowledging that unemployment was the most pervasive feature of the youth experience, he said his ministry intends to work with the Ministry of Labour to identify skills gaps and target training in strategic areas.