Creating Mentorship Opportunities for Jamaican Youth

Written by: Cait-Amoi Goulbourne

The Advance Program, a five-year regional technical education strengthening program funded by USAID and implemented by FHI 360 in Honduras, Guatemala, and Jamaica, is on a journey to prepare Jamaican youth for the world of work. In Jamaica, Advance works with the Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica to strengthen degree programs in Agro-processing & Business Management, and Health and Wellness Tourism; the Vocational Training Development (VTDI) in Entertainment & Events Management and Digital Media; and the University of Technology (UTECH) in Fashion Styling & Image Consulting and Design & Technology. 

One way the Program strengthens opportunities for disadvantaged youth is by hosting career outreach events. These events give youth opportunities to interact with industry specialists and representatives from select technical and tertiary institutions. Two industry specialists took this interaction beyond the walls of one of these career events. Odessa Chambers and Andre Mangue, who were present at The Career Shop–a career outreach event which focused on the creative industries—decided to provide professional guidance to two youth who attended the event.

Mangue is a digital media specialist who facilitated a digital media workshop and participated in a panel discussion on the Business of Entertainment and Fashion. During the event he was drawn to the young Oshane Panton’s keen sense of enthusiasm for careers in the digital media space. Mangue decided to mentor him by providing advice and career guidance.

“[Since the event] we speak via email and WhatsApp, and I have been looking at creative ways to include him on any project where there is a mutually beneficial opportunity.”

Mangue doesn’t classify himself as an official mentor, but he is now making it his duty to provide guidance to as many youth as possible, including Panton. “With collaboration, I plan to open up networks, which can assist in his brand building and I’ll continue to help him to build his own successful company to provide income for others.”

Chambers, who led the panel discussion on the Business of Entertainment and Fashion, saw an opportunity to assist Christin Vassell, in whom she said she saw a “bright spark.” Chambers uses an integrated approach to provide guidance by reviewing Vassell’s work and providing feedback, introducing her to individuals in the industry, advising her of the best practices and occasionally welcoming her into her production space to observe and get hands on training. “I talk to Christin about interacting with different personalities in the entertainment business, how to approach certain situations, working with people in different environments, and presenting herself on camera and so on,” said Chambers.

Both Chambers and Mangue believe that mentorship is pertinent to the professional development of every Jamaican youth and needs to be practiced by more professionals. “I believe it is absolutely important. As a millennial within digital marketing, it is important to bridge the gap with existing cultures within corporate culture, while preparing those younger than myself to succeed and create opportunities for others as a ripple effect,” stated Mangue.

“It is very important especially in Jamaica. I feel that youth in Jamaica need [mentorship] so they can become a bit more ‘wealthy’ and not just think locally, but globally,” added Chambers.

Moving forward, the Advance Program will continue to connect youth with employers as part of relevant, hands-on technical education training so that they are ultimately well prepared to enter the world of work.