Thirty young men drawn from vulnerable communities across St. James have enrolled in the inaugural truck driver simulator training programme being offered at the Caribbean Military Academy (CMA), the tertiary institution of Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), which is situated in the community of Flanker in the parish.
The programme is being undertaken at a cost of approximately $20 million through a partnership involving the Ministry of National Security, the CMA, the HEART NSTA Trust, and the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU).
The participants commenced training, which is being offered free of cost, on January 21 on a full and part-time basis.
The objective of the five-month engagement is to prepare the participants to apply technical skills and knowledge to drive articulated and combination units, including trailers, trucks, buses, delivery and commercial vehicles.
The course also aims to equip them with the requisite employability skills to compete in the global work force.
Training will comprise 40 per cent simulation and 60 per cent practical engagement.
Speaking during a visit to the academy on Friday (February 5), Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, said the programme will provide an honest productive alternative for marginalized young men and facilitate behavioural change, while generating socio-economic opportunities.
He noted that the engagement forms part of the JDF’s policy shift to place greater focus on youth engagement.
“I really want to commend the group of officers, led by Lieutenant General Rocky Meade, [who] have committed themselves, through the Caribbean Military Academy, to really expand their training… and the Government is supporting that policy,” Dr. Chang stated.
He said the Government is looking to expand the JDF’s role in youth engagement, noting that “it is not so much to train them in the military… there is the Jamaica National Service Corp (JNSC), which we want to maintain at a good level”.
“[The JNSC] is expanding… in this kind of activity because we see the need, now, not only for skills training, but for character development, and the JDF, as an institution, is one of the finest in terms of orienting and developing character and offering an opportunity for our young people from challenged backgrounds,” the Minister further stated.
Dr. Chang reiterated the Administration’s undertaking to expanding human capital and social development programmes, targeting at-risk youth.
“It’s the Government’s commitment that we are going to socially invest in our people, which is a crucial part of our crime fighting activity,” he emphasized.
For his part, CMA President, Brigadier Radgh Mason, said the Academy, and by extension the JDF, is committed to youth engagement and development, noting that the truck driver simulator training programme is a sustainable way of tackling Jamaica’s social ills.
At the end of the programme, participants will receive certification from the CMU and be NVQJ Level 3 qualification in commercial driving operations.