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JAMAICA | House Passes Bill to Establish Jamaica National Service Corps

Jamaica's Parliament building, Gordon House Jamaica's Parliament building, Gordon House
KINGSTON, April 14, 2017 - A Bill seeking to establish the Jamaica National Service Corps (JNSC) within the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), was passed in the House of Representatives, on Wednesday).

The Defence (Amendment) Act, which was passed, also formalises the Chief of Defence Staff title given to the Commanding Officer of the JDF.

Closing the debate on the Bill, Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, reiterated that it was not the intention of the Bill to lower the recruiting requirement for the army.

“Those standards are maintained. What we are doing is to create another arm of the army. In the same way you have the various regiments, you have the reserves and now the national service corps,” Mr. Holness said.

He noted that this will now become the route through which persons become enlisted in the army.

“So, you will join the National Service Corps and spend one year within the corps and after that, you can choose whether or not you will sign a longer term contract with the army. Those who choose not to go on, become available to the wider society, and it would be a good recruiting ground for the police and the various emergency services,” Mr. Holness explained.

The JNSC will target youth aged 18-23 and will create an avenue for young people to be fully empowered through national service.

This new recruitment window will result in the drafting of approximately 700 young people, who will bring the JDF’s annual intake up to 1,000.

JNSC soldiers will be remunerated accordingly, be separate in identity and fully provided for in law.

Prime Minister Holness said for persons who do not meet the enrolment requirements, there are other programmes, such as the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) skills training initiative, to benefit them.

“We are going to augment those, so that those persons who apply but do not make the enlistment standard … can apply to these programmes and be brought up to the standard,” he said.

In addition, Mr. Holness said there will be a pre-technology training aspect that focuses on helping persons who have insufficient subjects to qualify for the National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET) level training courses at the JDF’s technical training institute.

“We are going to the lowest to ensure that they are catered to. The second is a technical training programme which facilitates persons being trained and qualified at the National Vocational Qualification of Jamaica (NVQ-J) level two in selected construction trades. The technical and pre-technology training are in progress right now at the JDF,” he noted.

The Prime Minister also mentioned the apprenticeship programme, which provides on-the-job training for persons who are already certified at the NVQ-J, level two or higher.

Meanwhile, Attorney General, Marlene Malahoo Forte, welcomed passage of the Bill, noting that she is excited by this new opportunity that will be created for persons in her West Central St. James constituency.

“This Bill is a good move in the right direction. There are many young Jamaicans who are looking for new opportunities to be trained and to be taught skills they should have been taught in their homes. So, it has my support, and I am very excited for the young men and women in my constituency and I will be doing my part to encourage them to enlist when the Corps is established,” Mrs. Malahoo Forte said.

For his part, Member of Parliament for Central Kingston, Ronald Thwaites, welcomed the legislation, adding that this programme will deliver training and employment opportunities for a cohort of young people who are presently unserved in the society.

  • Countries: Jamaica