Unemployment is topping the list of concerns Barbadian youth have.
And Minister of Youth, Stephen Lashley, said in light of this and other issues raised in the formulation of the island’s first National Youth Policy, Government was now “pursuing a number of key strategies to ensuring that the employment situation among young people is arrested”.
Beyond finding a job and having adequate mentoring along the way, however, the minister told the House of Assembly other areas of concern highlighted by Barbadian young people included education, the family, core values, gangs, housing, lifestyle diseases, political participation and the environment.
“Those are the nine very key issues, all inter related, and if you examine them very carefully, Mr. Speaker, there isn’t one single policy that any government could implement without touching on either one or a combination of these issues. These were the issues identified,” the Christ Church West Central MP said as he led debate on the National Youth Policy today in the Lower House.
The minister said having heard from the local youth, officials produced a policy containing clear and precisely crafted objectives to meet their needs, including employment. “In the document you will see Goal A to reduce unemployment by ensuring that young people are gainfully employed after leaving school and following that would be objectives as identified by young people themselves,” he noted.
Lashley told Parliament the current Administration that in “creating employment we are pursuing a number of key strategies to ensuring that the employment situation among young people is arrested, but done from a very strategic perspective and … part of that strategy requires a completely different mindset in terms of how we approach employment for our young people”.
“Clearly there are a number of areas that have to dovetail in order to ensure that whether they are self employment opportunities, whether there are employment opportunities, that they jobs created are sustainable and that they feed into the goals that we have in the Medium Term Fiscal Strategy,” the official stated.
He added that while it was okay to talk about unemployment and the fact that young people did not have work and needed it, “what is more important is to address the strategies that will be designed and pursued to ensure that our young people can be occupied in gainful activity”.
“The work has started to ensure that these issues are aggressively championed,” he said.
A major part of this included combining existing mentorship and attachment programmes “with a view to ensuring that we can get maximum effect from our programme of job attachment and mentorship”.
“It is very clear that rather than different departments approaching private sector companies, or approaching even public sector employers, that there ought to be one approach made and that the various programmes can be appropriately coordinated so that they can provide maximum benefit to our young people,” Lashley stated. (SC)