Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 13th 2017 Contents A18 news
guardian.co.tt Sunday, August 13, 2017
International Youth Day was celebrated across
the world yesterday. Following is a statement sent
by The University of the West Indies in commem-
oration of the event:
The University of the West Indies Youth
Development Programme (UWI YDP) wishes
all the youth of our Caribbean community a
very conscious International Youth Day, this
August 12th day of acknowledgement.
While many of our youth are fully engaged in
pursuing their education and career goals, the shad-
ow of youth unemployment is becoming a global
epidemic. Our Caribbean is not exempt from this
global trend. In the Caribbean, joblessness endures
as a major challenge, according to the World Em-
ployment and Social Outlook: Trends 2017, the
unemployment rate is expected to rise to 8.4 per
cent across the region and spikes to 17 per cent in
several of these countries. Youth unemployment
is twice that.
The effects of youth unemployment are multi-
dimensional and interfere with all aspects of our
society, particularly its impact on youth violence.
The relationship between youth unemployment and
youth violence is only too well known and the cor-
responding rise in youth violence is as unsurprising
as it is disturbing.
There are numerous contributing factors to youth
unemployment in the Caribbean, many of which
have been stated in one forum or another, yet there
is more, much more, we can do in response to this
challenge. This is not a message of hopelessness,
but rather of hope, and a call to action.
Addressing youth unemployment first requires
the acceptance by all stakeholders, of the fact that
youth unemployment is everyone's business. Sec-
ondly, it demands the formulation of a coalition of
relevant parties and the mounting of an ambitious
commitment to developing and implementing a
medium and long-term plan aimed at reversing the
current youth unemployment trajectory. A key pri-
ority of a youth unemployment strategy must be
the promotion of entrepreneurship and innovation
thereby driving job creation and industry.
Undertaking the proposal in this message re-
quires a prioritisation of this issue. It will include
the political will of governments and call upon the
social responsibility of the private sector. It must
also be understood that addressing this issue is not
a kindness to one part of our population, but the
conscious effort to define the future of our Carib-
bean. We must not allow despair to promote crime
and violence, unhealthy sexual practices and social
The UWI - YDP affirms its commitment to sup-
porting the youth of the region by working with
the governments of the Caribbean and the regional
private sector in this endeavour. It is imperative that
we contemplate our next decisions and what they
will mean for our society during our lifetime and
beyond. Will we continue to suffer from these same
issues a decade from now? Or will we be able to look
back with pride at the leadership of our decision
makers and the cooperative spirit and dedication
to progress by our civil society? Let us embrace the
idea of the prosperous Caribbean we want.
We must embrace a Caribbean that is beyond
these challenges and decided to shape a produc-
tive and growing Caribbean which embraces en-
trepreneurship and innovation. We must embrace
a Caribbean expressed by cooperation, informed
decision making, and strategic planning for the
The UWI -- YDP looks forward to offering a sup-
porting system to our governments and civil society
stakeholders and encourages a moment of reflection
and solidarity on this day, as we consciously shape
the prosperous Caribbean we want.
Where are the jobs?
It's a question being asked
by hundreds of young people
across T&T, as they attempt
to find their way in an econ-
omy they feel now lacks op-
Last week, the Central Bank
of T&T released its annual eco-
nomic survey for 2016, which
recorded increased rates of un-
employment among the youth
The report noted that the
highest rates of unemployment
were recorded among youths, el-
ementary workers and secondary
school leavers with zero passes.
The 15-19 age group recorded an
unemployment rate of 13.3 per
cent, while the rate for the 20-
24 age group was 11.2 per cent.
Meanwhile, all other age groups
showed unemployment rates
ranging between 0.9 per cent
and 6.5 per cent.
The report said within occu-
pational groupings, elementary
workers had the highest unem-
ployment rate of 6.6 per cent
in the second quarter of 2016,
more than double the unem-
ployment rate recorded for this
occupational grouping in the
corresponding quarter of 2015
(3.0 per cent).
In terms of educational at-
tainment, people who attended
secondary school but achieved
no subjects had the highest un-
employment rate in the second
quarter of 2016 (8.5 per cent)---
much higher than the unemploy-
ment rate (3.6 per cent) recorded
in the same quarter of 2015.
President of the Trinidad
Youth Council Shanice Webb
said it was clear even before
the published report, that the
number of young people facing
unemployment and underem-
ployment was growing.
In an interview last week,
Webb said when it came to find-
ing and keeping employment the
cards were stacked against young
people, particularly during a re-
cession when employers are usu-
ally more likely to let the newer
employees go in retrenchment
"It is something that we are
trying to formulate plans toward
tackling," Webb said.
"There are young people who
are qualified and certified, went
through GATE but they aren't
employed or they are under-
"We had a project called 'Take
a Seat, Take a Stand' where we
went into communities and
asked young people what was
bothering them. The top two
answers were crime and unem-
Webb said when her NGO went
to 15 communities between 2015
and 2017, they recorded high
numbers of unemployed youth.
"I think there is the econom-
ic downturn, but there is also a
fear of employers willing to hire
more people in terms of insta-
bility in the market. People are
trying to downsize and in LIFO
(last in, first out)-type policies,
where the newest members of
staff are the first to go, young
people are going to be the ones
at a disadvantage."
The youth council often works
with the Ministry of Sport and
Youth Affairs on projects to
address youth issues, but said
financing these projects have
always been a problem.
"Finance is a big issue in terms
of funding going to youth devel-
opment. I think the funding goes
to sports as opposed to youth de-
velopment. People see sports as
a greater tool but there is a need
for other initiatives."
Webb said in a culture where
young people were not judged
based on performance but on
experience, the cards were al-
ready stacked against them at
"Some fall through the cracks.
They try to be positive and open
businesses, even though it is dif-
ficult to access funding or loans."
One such person is Timothy
Ali, a 29-year-old shop-owner
who is currently pursuing his
Masters degree and finding it
difficult to find employment.
Ali, who has a BSc in Sociolo-
gy with a minor in Criminology
and Psychology, signed up to
be a teacher with the Ministry
of Education in 2012. After not
being called for an assessment,
he opened a stationery business
but is struggling to sustain it.
"I started the stationery shop
as a way to earn income when I
got married. I had applied for
jobs online, signed up with Min-
istry of Labour, looked at jobs in
the newspaper and got nothing,"
he told the Sunday Guardian.
"I planted a kitchen garden to
sell to family and friends in the
neighbourhood to make extra
money. I do car washing on a
small scale to make extra money."
Ali recalled that when he was
attending university he had re-
ceived job offers but had chosen
to dedicate time to his education.
"When I went into UWI in
2009, it was a dream come
through but now I watch my
friends who have less qualifi-
cations and are employed and I
see how better off they are. With
the way the economy is going it
is a lot harder."
International Youth Day focuses on key struggle
Young people need jobs
plan for youth
They can create own jobs
Sports and Youth Affairs Min-
ister Darryl Smith says while the
ministry is monitoring unemploy-
ment among young people, it is
his opinion the way to combat
rising unemployment rates is
through innovation and entre-
"Unemployment among youth
is a problem that not just T&T
is seeing. There has been an in-
crease in unemployment among
youth across Latin America and
the Caribbean. Add to that the
current economic downturn and
that is why you will see these
numbers increasing," Smith said.
He said in speaking to NGOs
that deal with youth develop-
ment and youth issues, they
had highlighted a culture of
"adultism" which contributes
to unemployment among youth.
Adultism is a prejudice against
children or youth.
"People stereotype young peo-
ple and hesitate to hire them.
They label them as lazy and un-
productive and that is just not
true," Smith said.
He added that he thought the
young people in T&T were natu-
rally innovative and encouraged
them to use the programmes
available through a number of
government ministries, such as
the Ministry of Labour, Social
Development and Agriculture,
to start their own businesses.
The international community
celebrated International Youth
Sport Minster Darryl Smith
City Hall in
left, is Lyndel
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