Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) candidate for Christ Church East Central, economist Ryan Straughn has identified unemployment among well-qualified young persons in the constituency as a major concern.
Following a mass canvass of the Kingsland Terrace community yesterday afternoon, in the company of party leader Mia Mottley, the previous candidate Desmond Sands and supporters, the political newcomer noted that some of his constituents were unable to find employment over the past seven years.
“Growth is absolutely important to turning around the fortunes of these young people because, at the end of the day, if you leave school well-qualified and you do not have any options in jobs or anything, then that creates problems,” said Straughn, who has been one of harshest critics of the ruling Democratic Labour Party’s economic policies.
“Therefore, any public policy that I may be part of formulating would have to be people-centred from the point of view that any business –– small, medium, large — should be in a position to expand and provide opportunities, not only for their staff and shareholders, but for the young people of Barbados.”
He went on: “I met a couple of young people this afternoon who told me they have not worked for seven years and these are not young people that you would think should be in a position like that. They are well-qualified young people.
“They have been forced to do other things to support themselves other than what they wanted to do.”
Straughn is expected to go up against Minister of Education Ronald Jones who won the seat in the last three general elections. However, the DLP has not yet announced if Jones will indeed be seeking a fourth term.
Asked if he was excited about entering elective politics and making a contribution to the economic development of the country, Straughn, a former Central Bank employee, replied: “I am excited by the prospect of assisting in turning the economic fortunes of the country around, but I am fully aware that as things get progressively worse, any excitement will be dimmed by the fact that we have to get in and clear the mess up.
“I am not excited about clearing up a mess, but I am certainly excited about making a difference in peoples’ lives. I believe that if you have the right public policy in place, a lot of good things can happen. . . . I am excited at the prospect of entering public life and the contribution that I think I can make.”
Asked to comment on the reception the BLP team received during the canvass, Straughn, a former president of the Barbados Economic Society, replied: “All in all, it has been a good afternoon. We met quite a number of people as the team moved around. I think there is a lot more work to be done. The reception has been very warm. Therefore, I anticipate returning to the constituency on a regular basis to ensure that the connection with the people is made and remains so for some time.”