KINGSTON – April 21, 2017.

In light of the recently created Jamaica National Service Corp (JNSC), the Jamaica Defence Force is announcing additional youth engagement programs aimed at impacting a wider cross section of young Jamaicans. The JNSC, which was announced last March to replace the JDF’s traditional recruitment entry point, is aimed at employing and training approximately 1,000 young adults, aged 18-23 years, in the JDF for one year. The program, which is part of Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ “LEGS” initiative, will see participants being trained as soldiers in a variety of military and life enhancement skills, such as discipline, respect, honesty and integrity.

According to Maj Basil Jarrett, head of JDF Civil Military Cooperation and Media Affairs, the Force has created two additional initiatives to accompany the JNSC. “The JDF regards the positive engagement of the nation’s youth as a matter of high priority and this focus is even more critical now as more of our young people struggle to find their place in today’s challenging society. As a result, we are looking to widen the net of those impacted by our youth engagement initiatives with these two new programs.”

The first is the Military Supported Training and Apprenticeship Program (MSTAP) undertaken through partnerships with agencies such as the Ministry of National Security and HEART Trust NTA. The MSTAP is aimed at developing technical, vocational and life skills of participants in a disciplined, military environment. The program includes three components: an apprenticeship programme for persons with NVQJ Level 2 certification; training up to NVQJ Level 2 certification for persons without technical qualifications; and, for persons who do not have the basic education required for technical training, a JDF supervised Pre-Tech component to qualify them for technical training. According to Major Jarrett, “MSTAP participants are not soldiers, but rather, civilians engaged in technical training under the supervision of soldiers. They are not exposed to weapons or any other form of military training but they will benefit from the exposure to positive values, attitudes and behavior associated with the military. ” Maj Jarrett also pointed out that, unlike the JNSC, the MSTAP has no age limit, but nonetheless, preference will be given to younger persons. All three components of the MSTAP will also include a stipend for participating persons.

The second additional component of this broader JDF youth engagement initiative is the strengthening of the Jamaica Combined Cadet Force (JCCF). “The Cadet Force provides a rich environment for youngsters to receive the mental, moral and physical training needed to make a good start in life,” said Maj Jarrett, “while instilling in them the idea of service to their fellowman, their school, their community and their country. The JDF will be strengthening its support to the Cadet Force in order to enhance the program and increase its efficiencies. Our aim is to achieve a 100% increase, by recruiting more children into existing cadet units and creating new units in additional schools within the next 5 years”.  The strengthening of the JCCF will expose and prepare a greater number of high school aged children to the career opportunities in the military, while instilling in them, core JDF values of courage, commitment, honour, integrity, loyalty and discipline.

All three components of the JDF’s Youth Engagement strategies are in keeping with the Government’s LEGS initiative, which aims to engage young adults in a national service programme to Learn, Earn, Give back to society and Save towards future goals.