Minister Weeks On Throne Speech Initiatives

November 11, 2011

Minister of Community Development Michael Weeks held a press conference yesterday [Nov.9] where discussed initiatives out of the recent Throne Speech.

As he acknowledged that Bermuda has been facing difficult times recently, he emphasized that his Ministry was doing all that it could to empower the Island’s residents.

“The staff of the Ministry of Community Development has been and continues to work tirelessly to accomplish our mission which has been guided by the need to not only help all of us, as Bermudians to meet the basic necessities of life; but to guide by the spheres of human existence.

“First and foremost…support for our people by enhancing our social and cultural expression. Assisting, by providing where possible, an economic advantage (jobs/marketable skills), and model the acceptance of diversity of interests.”

He continued: “I encourage all of us to engage in community participation. I want to encourage you to always come out in strong numbers to support Bermuda.”

Minister Weeks gave an update on the Job Corps Programme, which is set to launch during the second quarter of 2012: “The Bermuda adaptation of the Job Corps Programme, recommended in the Mincy Report, not only will provide eligible Bermudians, aged 16 and over, with free education and training, but is designed to equip them to compete for stable, long term careers.

“By utilizing a tried and tested combination of competencies in academic, vocational, information technology, employability and independent living skills, it is intended that at the end of each participant’s tenure in the Programme, he or she will have acquired those life and work skills needed to successfully enter the employment market.”

He added that at this juncture, the Ministry of Community Development had identified a shortlist of names for the programme, was in the process of finalizing a site for the Job Corps Programme and had identified five core groups of Bermudians who will develop the framework of operations for the Programme.

“They will decide the best practices in the areas of Outreach/ Enrolment, Academics, Career Training and Job Placement. The aim is to make the programme Bermudian. They will layout the procedures, guidelines and operations of the Job Corps Programme.”

Minister Weeks gave an update on the Tri-30 Work Experience Programme, which launched in late September and saw 30 young people between the ages of 18 and 25 placed with 30 employers in both the public and private sector. The initiative runs until the first week in December.

Participants are also required to attend various workshops aimed at improving their work and interpersonal skills. “I am pleased to announce that already four participants have been offered fulltime employment. Hopefully, there will be more success stories to report in the near future.”

Minister Weeks expressed his excitement surrounding the implementation of the Cultural Legacy Fund: “This fund is managed by a team of talented individuals within Department of Community and Cultural Affairs. This fund attempts to provide some financial support to those who write books, create visual art, craft music, and develop films, foster free speech that highlights Bermuda and its people.”

“You can be proud of the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, because they work hard every day to ensure that our music, drama, arts, dance and literature, continues to tell a story for generations to come. As Minister, I will continue to find innovative ways for this department to highlight our Bermudian talent for all of the world’s stage to see.

“Therefore, we find it imperative, to take the lead in finding new and creative ways to inject additional financial support for the cultivation of the Arts and the creation of the Artists’ Registry.”

“Our Ministry is in the process of proposing amendments to the Charities Act of 1978. Our first Town Hall meeting was held on October 18th, and I personally want to thank the charitable organizations and public at large for their attendance. The next Charities Town Hall meeting is scheduled for November 29.”

Concerning the Parish Councils, Minister Weeks added the Ministry of Community Development is in the developmental stage of a plan to rejuvenate Bermuda’s Parish Councils. This plan would include increased civil participation from all age groups and sectors of the community and introduce programs such as Community Gardens, Community Action Groups and the Beautification Project.

He concluded: “This Ministry will lead on behalf of the Government to ensure a formalization of social pacts with the private sector and various charitable and sporting organizations. This social contract in action will examine how to make better use of the limited resources to build community relationships and partnerships that strengthen Bermuda’s neighborhoods and communities.

“Bermuda, I know that we are facing challenging times, but if we continue to stick together as a community, we will make it through. Let us build one another, together.”

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