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UWI wants unemployment plan for youth

Published: 
Sunday, August 13, 2017

International Youth Day was celebrated across the world yesterday. Following is a statement sent by The University of the West Indies in commemoration of the event:

The University of the West Indies Youth Development Programme (UWI YDP) wishes all the youth of our Caribbean community a very conscious International Youth Day, this August 12th day of acknowledgement.

While many of our youth are fully engaged in pursuing their education and career goals, the shadow of youth unemployment is becoming a global epidemic. Our Caribbean is not exempt from this global trend. In the Caribbean, joblessness endures as a major challenge, according to the World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2017, the unemployment rate is expected to rise to 8.4 per cent across the region and spikes to 17 per cent in several of these countries. Youth unemployment is twice that.

The effects of youth unemployment are multidimensional and interfere with all aspects of our society, particularly its impact on youth violence. The relationship between youth unemployment and youth violence is only too well known and the corresponding rise in youth violence is as unsurprising as it is disturbing.

There are numerous contributing factors to youth unemployment in the Caribbean, many of which have been stated in one forum or another, yet there is more, much more, we can do in response to this challenge. This is not a message of hopelessness, but rather of hope, and a call to action.

Addressing youth unemployment first requires the acceptance by all stakeholders, of the fact that youth unemployment is everyone’s business. Secondly, it demands the formulation of a coalition of relevant parties and the mounting of an ambitious commitment to developing and implementing a medium and long-term plan aimed at reversing the current youth unemployment trajectory. A key priority of a youth unemployment strategy must be the promotion of entrepreneurship and innovation thereby driving job creation and industry.

Undertaking the proposal in this message requires a prioritisation of this issue. It will include the political will of governments and call upon the social responsibility of the private sector. It must also be understood that addressing this issue is not a kindness to one part of our population, but the conscious effort to define the future of our Caribbean. We must not allow despair to promote crime and violence, unhealthy sexual practices and social apathy.

The UWI - YDP affirms its commitment to supporting the youth of the region by working with the governments of the Caribbean and the regional private sector in this endeavour. It is imperative that we contemplate our next decisions and what they will mean for our society during our lifetime and beyond. Will we continue to suffer from these same issues a decade from now? Or will we be able to look back with pride at the leadership of our decision makers and the cooperative spirit and dedication to progress by our civil society? Let us embrace the idea of the prosperous Caribbean we want.

We must embrace a Caribbean that is beyond these challenges and decided to shape a productive and growing Caribbean which embraces entrepreneurship and innovation. We must embrace a Caribbean expressed by cooperation, informed decision making, and strategic planning for the future.

The UWI – YDP looks forward to offering a supporting system to our governments and civil society stakeholders and encourages a moment of reflection and solidarity on this day, as we consciously shape the prosperous Caribbean we want.