Up to 1,000 young people are to gain opportunities to enter the job market in the latest partnership between Government and the business community, Minister of Youth and Community Empowerment Adrian Forde has announced.
The Minister’s revelation came as he addressed scores of young people during a celebration event of the Prince’s Trust International’s ‘Get Into’ programme at the Courtyard Marriott.
The event was intended to celebrate the success of dozens who came through the programme and the private sector partners who provided the opportunities.
Re-emphasising his concern about the report that as many as 3,500 Barbadian young people leave school “disengaged”, Forde identified the lack of opportunities for employment as a major contributor to feelings of disenfranchisement among young people.
Quoting recent Government statistics, he indicated: “Over 1,000 people seeking employment were told by employers that they need to have job experience.
“How can you have experience if you’ve just left school?
“How can you have experience if this is the first time you’re getting a job?
“How can you do it unless you waive some kind of magical wand?”
But the Minister welcomed a growing level of engagement from key players in the private sector through the ‘Get Into’ programme, which provides job experience for school leavers.
Forde said: “The establishment of these key partnerships plays a significant role in how we tackle the issues of youth unemployment and aim to make young people more employable.
“The ‘Get Into’ programme is one such initiative between the ministry and the Prince’s Trust.”
Forde pointed to numerous other Government programmes aimed at establishing private sector partnerships to secure job experience for 1,000 young people.
He revealed the ‘Get Into’ programme would target 400 young people, a partnership with the Royal Barbados Police Force will target 150, the Ministry of Education will focus on 200 and the Youth Business Trust will focus on 185.
The youth Minister said: “We are going to capture as much of those young persons walking around this country disengaged.”
But he cautioned the participants they also had a critical role to play.
Forde said: “In order for you to be successful, you have to practice certain basic tenets including hard work, discipline and selflessness.
“You must be able to humble yourself and take advice from those who went before you.”
Yolande Howard, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, acknowledged local businesses are not solely to blame for the difficulties young people experience in finding work.
With youth unemployment at a troubling 29 per cent, Howard identified the issue of employability as one of the key issues in need of attention from Government and the private sector.
Howard said: “Many times we hear employers complain that too many people were coming into the workplace without the necessary core skills… whether persons came into the workforce with CXCs, an Associate’s Degree, a Bachelor’s Degree or a Master’s Degree.
“Some of those core skills were missing and it was a problem because it meant that employers had and still have to work harder to prepare those young people for the world of work and get them to work within a team in an organisation.”