Minister of Youth and Community Empowerment Adrian Forde has set a priority for curbing youth unemployment, now at nearly one-third of young adults and as high as seven out of ten school leavers.
“My dream is to reduce the unemployment rate which hovers around 70 per cent among school leavers and 30 per cent of persons under 30 years old. We have to reduce that; we are trying to get it to single digit figures and the only way that we can do that is if we provide out-of-the-box ideas and programmes,” Forde told Barbados TODAY.
Forde said every young person who leaves secondary school should be provided with an avenue for becoming a productive citizen.
“It is no secret that the high level of unemployment in this country among school leavers is unacceptable . . . . Every young person that leaves school should be given an opportunity to benefit from a form of tertiary education,” he said.
Among the Government’s plans for young people includes a new headquarters building for the Barbados Youth Service at Paragon, Christ Church. Forde said work has been begun with one unit already completed.
He said: “As you can see one unit has been built already. The plan is very much alive but we are looking at finances. We are a new government and there is a plan in place to construct those facilities which started a year ago.”
Plans to give the BYS a new home are still in the works under the Mia Mottley administration, Forde said.
“The plans are still in progress and it will come to fruition at some point in time I cannot tell you when. I must report to you that one unit has been completed and we will complete the other one in due course,” he told Barbados TODAY.
In a bid to curb violence among the nation’s young people, former social transformation minister Hamilton Lashley has called for a holistic youth programme that involves the Youth Service, the Barbados Defence Force’s youth programme and the Vocational Training Board.
Lashley said: “If we do that, it could stem the tide of the existing gun violence and other forms of violence in the island and that is something that must be critically looked at.”
The community activist and former St Michael South East MP told Barbados TODAY such a programme should
capture the imagination of Barbadian youth and be aimed at creating young entrepreneurs.
“The necessary surveys should be carried out to find out what the youth are interested in so that when they leave secondary school, they go into that programme and then when they leave that programme they know that they are going further to establish their own businesses. These programmes should be so varied that they encourage the youth to want to be a part of them,” Lashley said.