Saturday, 21 May 2016

STATE OF THE NATION: MP Floyd Green on the youth unemployment agenda, fighting child abuse, and his ‘amazing journey’

ON MESSAGE: The state minister addressing Friday's launch at the UWI Mona Assembly Hall; (below) a photo-op with members of the head table.

As a teenager, Floyd Green worked in a department store selling shoes to earn money for the summer, so he could relate to the dozens of youngsters who flocked to the UWI Mona Assembly Hall on Friday for the launch of “Nestlé Needs YOUth” initiative and career fair, where they participated in workshops, other activities and interview sessions for the chance to intern, complete summer jobs and be selected for monthly career coaching workshops, as of next month. Green, a Munro College alum, delivered an insightful keynote address, citing numerous government projects in the pipeline to address the matter of youth unemployment. Following the launch, TALLAWAH spoke with the 34-year-old state minister (Education, Youth and Information) about Jamaican youth and work experience, his remarkable journey to Gordon House, and what keeps him humble.

TALLAWAH: Your speech said that the Government is partnering with the HEART/Trust NTA to establish a national apprenticeship programme to address the alarming rate of youth unemployment in Jamaica. How has that been going?
Floyd Green: It’s one of the priorities of the Government. We now have an apprenticeship board, and it is one of the reasons why [the] Youth and Education [portfolios] are back together. Part of what we are streamlining now is the placement of our young people and the training of our young people. So we want to expand the HEART programme, especially as it relates to training, because we want to ensure that a lot of our young people, while they’re getting a skill they’re also getting the work experience that is needed. A part of the problem is that when a lot of them leave the education system, they might have the theories but they don’t have the practical experience. And in this day and age, employers are looking for that practical experience. It also helps them in terms of the skills that they need in transitioning between industries. So the Government will have to ensure that the areas in which we have opportunities, we have people who can fill them.

TALLAWAH: The Keep Children Safe campaign has struck a chord with Jamaicans. Are you satisfied with how the public has responded?
Floyd Green: I love the response. [The campaign] came about as a result of a partnership with UNICEF. We have also launched another campaign called Our Children, which we are using to spread a broader message that every child is our child. We want every Jamaican to treat every child as if it’s their own. Every child is a collective responsibility. And we have successfully embarked on that campaign, and we got good support from private partners. We have incorporated [other initiatives] like Keep Children Safe and Break the Silence, which is about speaking up when you know that children are being abused. All of that we’ve incorporated into the overarching message that every child is our child.

TALLAWAH: We’ve watched in awe as you’ve risen from youth leader to G2K President to parliamentarian to Cabinet member. Are you enjoying the ride?
Floyd Green: It’s been an amazing journey. Sometimes you embark on a journey and you may not be so sure. As young people, we sometimes doubt our own potential and possibilities. So this has reaffirmed in my mind that whatever you dream you can achieve, if you work hard and set your mind to it. You may think the system is designed against you, especially in politics, which many people say is designed to keep out the young person, but we can break down those barriers. You just have to work hard at it. So it’s been an amazing journey; I’ve learned a lot and there’s a lot more to learn.
TALLAWAH: Do you get a lot of sleep in your new job?
Floyd Green: (Laughs). I learned from Chancellor Hall that sleep is a concept. So you just have to get to work.

TALLAWAH: Speaking of your Mona Campus days, your old pal Damion Crawford is hosting a new radio show on Nationwide FM, starting this month-end. When was the last time you guys spoke?
Floyd Green: I haven’t spoken to him since, but I look forward to listening to him. I expect him to be balanced and fair. I’m sure he will address the message of prosperity that the Government has embarked upon. And I know he wants Jamaica to prosper and for us to bring prosperity to the people of Jamaica.

TALLAWAH: Mr. Green, you’ve been having a swell career so far, flying up the ladder, so to speak, yet you remain so grounded. What keeps you humble?
Floyd Green: [This job] teaches you responsibility, because a lot of people have left their hopes and dreams in your care. It has taught me great humility, to recognize that there are people greater than you, but that there are also those who think highly of you. And you have to balance that and remember that you’re here to serve them. It’s taught me to remain grounded and to stay humble and to remember that service is the utmost. 

> Launch Report: Over 1,500 youth to benefit from new Nestlé initiative 

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