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Saturday, June 10, 2006 

09 June 2006

At-Risk Youth in Eastern Caribbean Targeted in New Job Program

Inter-American group, U.S. company team up to provide job training

By Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- At-risk youth in the Eastern Caribbean are being targeted for help under an initiative created by an affiliate of the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Microsoft Corporation, based in Redmond, Washington.

In a June 6 statement, the OAS said its nonprofit affiliate, the Trust for the Americas, and Microsoft will expand an existing program that provides technology-based job training and job placements. The program, called the Partnership in Opportunities for Employment through Technology in the Americas, currently operates in more than 12 countries of the Western Hemisphere, the OAS said.
The plan is to expand the program to the nine countries of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.

The OAS said that hopes for future economic growth in the Caribbean rest with a new generation of young workers, where two-thirds of the region’s population is said to be under 30.

These workers, said the OAS, “must be technically prepared to meet the demands of a knowledge economy." However, because of a lack of opportunities and limited access to training, the OAS said the region's young people are vulnerable to such risks as substance abuse, sexual diseases, crime and violence.

The program will focus on building technical skills among young people so they can compete in such potential growth industries in the Caribbean as telecommunications, telemarketing and the hospitality industry.

OAS Secretary-General José Miguel Insulza said the program, and particularly its expansion into the Caribbean, reflects “my vision to see the OAS actively engaging the private sector to promote development and justice in the hemisphere." Insulza said "it is this sense of corporate responsibility that will lead Latin America and the Caribbean into a new era of growth and progress."

Eugenio Beaufrand, vice president of Microsoft for Latin America and the Caribbean, said the company is "committed to developing and expanding" initiatives "to help people pursue their dreams and advance their possibilities in today's knowledge economy."

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) operates an Eastern Caribbean program, which consists of about $17 million annually to promote economic development, legal reform, trade-capacity building and HIV/AIDS assistance to the region's small island countries.
USAID operates an office in Barbados that directly administers the Eastern Caribbean program.

Additional information is available on the midterm report, Partnership in Opportunities for Employment through Technology in the Americas (PDF, 22 pages), available on Trust for the Americas Web site.

For information on U.S. policies in the region, see The Caribbean.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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