Minister of Labour Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo receiving a copy of CDB’s latest publication entitled "Growth and Development Strategies for the Caribbean" from President of CDB Dr. Compton Bourne.??

If Caribbean countries are to tackle the adverse effects of the current economic crisis on the labour market and effectively prepare for the period of recovery, Governments in the region need to address some critical issues.

This advice came from Minister of Labour Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo.?? She was speaking yesterday at the opening of a Caribbean Development Bank (CDB)/ International Labour Organisation (ILO) Symposium, entitled Addressing the Effects of the Global Economic Crisis on Labour Markets in the Caribbean and Preparing for Sustainable and Decent Employment: The role of the Global Jobs Pact. It was held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

Noting that one immediate response to the economic downturn by policy and decision makers was to find more job opportunities, the Minister pointed out that Governments first needed to ask themselves which sector of the economy would be responsible for the generation of jobs. ??

"…in responding to this question, there must be clear guidance given by our economic planners, our businessmen, our investors and our exporters, who are in an ideal position to monitor and continuously analyse trends in the world economy and identify those high growth industries that, with sufficient resources, our countries may be able to penetrate.

"This group is well placed to further assist our governments in identifying barriers and gaps that would need to be overcome, in order for our businesses to gain access to those areas," she added.

After that step has been completed, Dr. Byer Suckoo suggested that Governments then work to ensure that a suitable macro-economic framework is put in place to facilitate the development of those identified sectors, followed by an identification of employment related policies, which are fundamental to meaningful employment creation.

To this end, she recommended that policies outlined in both the Global Jobs Pact and the ILO’s Global Employment Agenda be used as a guide for Governments to become more aggressive in facilitating foreign direct investment in a number of sectors. ??The Labour Minister added that these included such niches as health tourism; aggressively seeking employment opportunities that can emanate from trade agreements, especially from the Economic Partnership Agreement and the pending CARICOM Canada negotiation; creating a climate which was conducive to the further development of a vibrant entrepreneurial class that is innovative, futuristic and can make a viable contribution to economic activity. She also advocated strengthening the capacity of public employment agencies to source jobs for citizens in both local and overseas labour markets.

The aim of the symposium was to assess the full impact of the global financial crisis on the labour markets in the Caribbean and discuss policies and programmes at the macro level to stimulate trade, investments, competitiveness and by extension job opportunities. It was also designed to focus on labour market responses in terms of government policies to support employment, social protection, and broad social partnerships, inclusive of local and rural communities, cooperatives, and Non-Governmental Organisations.?? It ended today.????


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