Human Resources Manager of Carters General Store, Suzanne Durant, receives the Signature Award from Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, Charles Griffith, at the Employers’ Engagement Event held at Hilton Barbados, last Friday. (Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment)

Barbadian businesses which provide employment opportunities for youth were celebrated during an event hosted by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, at Hilton Barbados, Needham’s Point, St. Michael, last Friday.

The Employers’ Engagement Event, which highlights the contributions made by existing partners, in addition to engaging new partners, supports and strengthens the Ministry’s Employability Programme.

Minister Charles Griffith, speaking at the event, stated that the Employability Programme was vital to the development of youth in Barbados, and thanked the employers involved in the programme for their continued support because they were “changing the lives of our youngsters”, by giving them the opportunity “to step in a different direction”.

Mr. Griffith said he hoped the programme “grows from strength to strength…while strengthening our young people at a level where they can walk strong and walk well, in terms of the world of work”.

However, he highlighted one of the obstacles that impacted young people’s ability to apply for jobs, noting that “every single vacancy that you see in the newspaper” required experience.  

“How can it come for our young people who are struggling?  You’re providing that opportunity for the experience that they’re looking for,” Minister Griffith said.

He also thanked Senior Youth Commissioner, Elizabeth Bowen, for conceptualising and implementing both initiatives.

According to Mrs. Bowen, the Employability Programme is also an excellent way to recruit young persons who would meet the criteria of participating businesses.  

“We’re looking at fit-for-purpose employees….  It saves employers a lot of time because when we engage with our partners, we get to identify what their needs are, then we could filter into our programme in terms of the concepts and implementation of the programme.

“What are the requirements … of the employer and ensure that young persons coming out of the programme are suited for the particular organisations,” she emphasised.

The Employability Programme has been in existence for over 10 years, and has 40 corporate partners.  Over 300 young people have been assisted to date.

There were 90 participants in this year’s cohort, operating from satellites sites at Parkinson Resource Centre, Weston Resource Centre, Bush Hall Resource Centre, and St. John Parish Church Hall. There are plans to get the youth employed in other areas, including the agriculture sector.

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