Helping the youth to shape the kind of society needed now cannot be an effort of those young people alone.
In fact, Deputy Secretary General of Junior Chamber International, Arrey Obenson believes that left to themselves young people cannot make the difference they need to now.
Since the global recession, Obenson said he believed the youth were the key to producing the economies of the future.
“We know that not only Barbados, but the world is going through this economic crisis that is affecting countries across the world and I don’t think Barbados is sheltered from that, considering that this country is a tourist destination. If Europe and the Americas are affected, then Barbados should be; but what can young people who are the future of this country do about it? How can we be able to provide those young people with the skills that will help them to be able to address these challenges? What contribution can they make?
“We can’t just sit down and wait for things to work out themselves. We have to get involved, and that is the purpose of my visit here,” said the JCI official who left the island Sunday after addressing young people and members of the organisation.
To put a practical spin on what he believed young people could do, Obenson, who is a native of Cameroon but lives in Missouri, US, explained that in his state while they were complaints about high unemployment, the young JCI members banded together and asked government how they could help create jobs.
“We started challenging young people to think about it differently. Don’t tell me unemployment is high, tell me what we are doing about it and that totally gave them a different perspective. We went to the government of the state of Missouri and said, ‘In this crisis, tell us how the young people can help’. So we are currently working with the young people in the state of Missouri to develop programmes that can help alleviate poverty.
“For example, you worked as an electrician and you lost your job, how can we help you become marketable in the new economy. So we take these people and give them training in computer literacy programmes that will make them marketable in the new economy. So that is what we have been doing, creating local organisations that are focused on providing job training and skills that make people to get jobs again because construction jobs are not coming back and that is what can be done anywhere in the world. “We can make young people realise that the economy of yesterday is not going to be the one of the future, that we can prepare ourselves not only get a job, but this is going to help us contribute to the development of the community and country as a whole. We are not going to be measured by how many people we put to work, but what does it mean for the wider society. How will those people contribute to the development of society as a whole. That is the long term goal of what we are trying to do,” he said.
He noted that young people, across the world were showing they were interested in finding solutions to the economic challenges, but they needed help, opportunity and assistance to do it. (LB)