Minister of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Development, Senator Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, is hoping for concrete solutions to tackle the high incidence of youth unemployment.
She made this comment recently, while addressing the Organization of American States’ Forum – Towards Concrete Solutions for Addressing Youth Unemployment in the Caribbean – at UN House.
The Minister told her audience that youth unemployment is high in this region, and for at-risk or marginalised youth, “unemployability” makes them “vulnerable to all types of predators and some become involved in risky behaviours, with negative outcomes”.
She also gave participants a snapshot of youth unemployment from a global and regional perspective. Senator Byer Suckoo said young people are almost three times as likely as adults to be unemployed, or secure “lower quality jobs”, globally.
In the region, she said youth underemployment was also high, and added: “This means that almost all categories of our youth, including those that have successfully completed tertiary level education have difficulties finding work. In 2017, when we can all boast of having high level education systems, the paradox is that still too many young people cannot find employment.”
She continued: “Gone therefore is the assurance we were given that if you go to school and learn well, later on in life you won’t catch ‘real hell’, to paraphrase our region’s most celebrated calypsonian, The Mighty Sparrow.”
This new paradigm, the Labour Minister said, has forced governments both at the domestic and CARICOM levels to re-examine labour market requirements, and to assess the secondary and tertiary education, and technical and vocational education and training, to ensure that all graduates possess the skills and competencies required by industry today, and in the future.