Learning and working online have become the new norm across the globe, but will this be the new norm for youth across the Caribbean? Minister of Youth and Community Empowerment, Adrian Forde, believes there is a place for this new virtual environment across the Caribbean.
During a UNICEF Youth Activate Talks virtual panel discussion under the theme: The Future Of Education And Work For Caribbean Youth Beyond COVID-19, Minister Forde, in his remarks, emphasized that the current mode of learning and working online has a place in the future development of youth, especially in creating entrepreneurs.
The Youth Minister noted: “It is well-known that youth unemployment plagues most countries in the world. Indeed, the International Labour Organization’s latest statistics have indicated that global youth unemployment stood at over 13 per cent in 2019. Here in Barbados, youth unemployment was recorded at 24.6 per cent at the end of 2018.
“It is also recognized that over 40 per cent of our children leave secondary school without proper certification.
“It is also recognized that there are some young people who have achieved certification at the secondary, and sometimes at the tertiary levels, but still cannot find a job in their areas of study. Post COVID, we are hoping that this will change and with the touch of a button, they can become entrepreneurs.”
Highlighting the Ministry’s Building Blocks Project, Minister Forde stated that the project is aimed at transforming the various blocks and social spots in Barbadian communities into viable businesses for some of the country’s vulnerable young people.
The project has provided training in all aspects of business, entrepreneurship and personal development, and in a couple of weeks, 12 young persons will be opening their businesses.
Mr. Forde noted that the way of doing business during the COVID-19 pandemic, has forced most businesses to rely heavily on technology to carry out a number of daily operating tasks.
As a result, more and more technological and scientific skills will be needed to support this new virtual environment for learning and working.
Therefore, Minister Forde is suggesting that Caribbean governments need to provide opportunities for young people, to gain the right skills for all levels of employment.
To do so, he said: “Governments must invest more in labour market research and strive to develop education and training programmes which are relevant to the new and emerging needs of industry, so that our young people can obtain those skills that will make them employable, either as self-employed persons owing their own businesses or as employed persons in an establishment.”