Increased awareness about the abundance of employment opportunities within the region could play a vital role in reducing gun violence in Barbados.
This is the view of newly-appointed Barbados Youth Ambassador to CARICOM, Chad Monerville, who believes that high unemployment is a major factor in the increased gun play, which has already claimed three lives in 2019.
“We need to find meaningful ways to find growth in the economy and by finding growth you open opportunities for young people to be employed. So, we need to advocate, engage and show young people that there are opportunities within and outside of Barbados. So that is essentially how we can address this situation because I believe it to be a simple case of the devil finding work for idle hands to do,” said Monerville, who was responding to questions from Barbados TODAY after he and his colleague Tirshatha Jeffrey met with Ambassador to CARICOM David Comissiong at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs this morning.
As of July last year, the rate of unemployment stood at 10 per cent last year, up 0.3 per cent from the 9.7 per cent recorded in 2016, according to latest data from the Barbados Statistical Service.
The statistics from the Continuous Household Labour Force Survey indicate that the unemployment rate among males stood at 9.8 per cent compared to 10.1 per cent among females. In the review period, the number of persons employed totaled 129,900; of whom 66,200 were males and 63,700 were females. The total number of unemployed persons stood at 14,400 including 7,200 males and 7,200 females. In total, the number of persons in the labour force stood at 144,300. The number of persons not actively looking for work, hence excluded from the labour force, was 76,300 persons. The labour force participation rate stood at 65.4 per cent, with participation among males at 69.7 per cent and 61.5 per cent among females.
With Government cuts continuing under the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme and the private sector showing little appetite for new hires, those numbers could worsen this year.
However, in weighing in on the discussion, Jeffrey contended that the problem ran deeper than an employment issue. She noted that the situation was of such concern that Mia Mottley-Government could not afford to wait until things turn around before engaging young people. She pointed that many wayward young people feel disengaged from their society and needed to once again have a sense of purpose.
“We desperately need engagement and youth empowerment. It is not just about employment but also helping young people to find purpose and meaning in their lives. They may not have a job to go to everyday but if they know that whatever they are doing is making a change in their community, then they feel a sense of responsibility. We understand that the economy is not the best and we may not be able to get every young person a job but if we get them to feel as though they are part of the community and by extension part of Barbados, then this is going to seriously help with the issue of violence,” she said.